2 am in the Cat’s Pajamas

9780804140256_p0_v2_s192x300Why did it take me so long to read this book?  Seriously, I had heard so many good things about this book and now that I’m finally done I’m wondering what took me so long to finally read it!  I really enjoyed it – and if you haven’t read it, and wanted to, do it!

This is the story of a little girl who has lost her Mom, and her life afterwards. Specifically, the story chronicles about 72 hours, beginning the day before Christmas Eve. It just so happens to be a few days before her birthday, and this day, these hours, are quite eventful. The story begins at school, she attends a Catholic school, that has quite strict rules. The stories seem so familiar, and make it seem that Catholic schools and their students haven’t changed a bit. I loved the beginning of the story – there was one part where I laughed so hard out loud my cat looked at me like I was crazy.

Madeline is 9 years old, and is in the middle of a crisis. Her mother has just passed, her father is still recovering from that loss – and it’s her who seems to be carrying them along.  Right before Christmas break she is expelled from school. Though she is a student in a private Catholic school, she doesn’t fit in with the other girls. They are cruel, despite the loss of her mother. All she wants is to fit in, for them to like her, but mostly to sing.

The details of the story seem somewhat ambiguous – when and where it was taking place. I really felt like it could have been any time in the past 40 years (especially with the Catholic school tales).  Until the very last part of the book I wondered whether or not it was Philadelphia or Chicago. Only in the last part of the book when the El is mentioned did I know for sure.

The name of the story comes from a jazz club in the city. Before the story starts, Madeline has never heard of the club. After her mother’s cdeath she has been unable to talk to her father – about her mother, or anything else. He is numb, so her care falls to others. It is a neighbor who tells her about the club. Her mother had been a dancer, and had once been a snake handler there. She is intrigued to say the least, and it becomes her mission to find this club.

I loved the story, and I really loved the ending.  No spoilers, but I was waiting the whole story for this to happen.  And it did.As a reader, it was a satisfying ending.  It happens at 2 am, in the club called the Cat’s Pajamas.  Despite Madeline’s loss, there is beauty in this story.  If this book has been on your TBR list, like it was on mine, get to it!

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