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Delightful...[This] story has it all.
Time Out New York
Inventive, gorgeously written and unforgettable.
Enchanting…Rich and real…The book feels lively, with the jostling energy of…well, a club.
Set in a famous Philadelphia jazz club, this uplifting novel centers on three lonely people — including a precocious 9-year-old who dreams of becoming a singer — and their fateful search for companionship over the course of one Christmas Eve night.
The purely original construction of an irresistible story… Readers will fall in love…This assured, moving, brilliantly funny tale of music, mourning, and off-kilter romance entrances with its extraordinarily inventive language. Be prepared for a quick reread of this novel to try to answer the question: How did Bertino do that?
Library Journal (starred review)
A torch song to the power of jazz, determination and serendipity….Bertino's carefully crafted verbal cadence gives Philadelphia a thumping heartbeat that captures the feel of the jazz medium perfectly… Funny and wise, this first novel will leave readers with smiles on their faces and a song in their hearts--something with a little swing to it, naturally.
Vibrant...Bertino's characters are spot-on, and her special brand of humor brings each one to life in this fresh and charming tale.
2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas won me over heart and soul. With Madeleine Altimari, a nine year old aspiring jazz singer with a wonderful talent for cursing, Bertino has created one of the most winning and wonderful characters I've met in a long time. Read this book to see a debut author doing something really special, crafting a story where human kindness meets up with an inhospitable world and real magic happens in the aftermath.
Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of The Family Fang
Marie-Helene Bertino bops across Philadelphia like an alleycat on the run, energetic and wild. Her sentences are sharp and surprising, and her wonderful story is full of heart. There is funny poetry in the sound of loneliness, and Bertino has found it.
Emma Straub, author of The Vacationers and Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures
Clever, charming and full of life…Like the best jazz, 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas is a marvel of the unexpected, a buoyant, swinging tale of interwoven destinies that Marie-Helene Bertino tells with verve, wit, and warmth. I loved it.
Maggie Shipstead, author of Astonish Me and Seating Arrangements
2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas is as winning and funny as the nine year-old at its heart, and I love it for the way its protagonists turn their back on their city’s cruddiness and their own losses to proclaim their happiness to be in this world. They offer wryness as the antidote to self-pity and benevolence as the antidote to isolation, and they demonstrate how even the most forsaken can turn themselves into a warm, dry house.
Jim Shepard, National Book Award shortlisted author of Like You’d Understand, Anyway
“2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas is a recipe box full of wonders. With a wildly entertaining cast of characters, Marie-Helene Bertino soars through her native city of Philadelphia, zeroing in with great beauty, wit, skill and love on the exact moments in time that change our lives forever.
Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief
"Once you enter the imagination of Marie-Helene Bertino—a world as weird as it is warm—you will not want to leave. Each sentence is a pop-up box: first delightful for its sweet music, then profound with the shock of truth. This is a dazzling book.
Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints
2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas is beautiful, alive, and moving. Marie-Helene Bertino has a mesmerizing way with words… [This is] one of those books that stays in your head long after you’ve finished it, like a song.
Sara Crowe, author of Campari for Breakfast
The story of a lonely 9-year-old girl’s quest to perform at a Philadelphia jazz club on Christmas Eve rolls along much like a piece of music — different story lines wind and unwind like musical themes, and these stories are all threaded together with a consistently energized brio like one of the tunes played at the club giving the book its title. Each sentence, as well, is composed with a poetic ear; no line is wasted. That’s rare.
San Francisco Chronicle
Exposes both the beauty and burden of urban living…A clever tale of missed opportunities and seized ones, Cat’s Pajamas’ characters mirror the story’s inspiration. Like jazz, they’re unruly, improvised, and endlessly impassioned.
The novel’s true genius, though, is [Bertino's] wry insight into her delightful characters…crafted by a writer who shows that less is more, and that perfectly worded less is magic.
- The Philadelphia City Paper
Bertino conveys heartbreak and hopefulness in this lyrical, outlandish story that’s infused with grit and moments of truth...wonderfully weird and witty... magical.
Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
[2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas is] funny and sad and full of a lyricism that is as rare as it is appreciated.
The L Magazine
[2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas] is the most charming thing I have ever read in my entire existence on this planet…Come for the beauty and heartbreak, stay for the funny one-liners.
Sympathetic characters and an evocative setting combine in a story that takes some most unexpected turns. It’s thrilling to see bravery reminiscent of short story-telling translate into a novel. The dénouement had me in tears, in stitches and then doing a double take at an ending that seems to come out of nowhere.
Claire King, author of The Night Rainbow
“2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas won me over heart and soul. With
Madeleine Altimari, a nine year old aspiring jazz singer with a
wonderful talent for cursing, Bertino has created one of the most
winning and wonderful characters I’ve met in a long time. Read this book
to see a debut author doing something really special, crafting a story
where human kindness meets up with an inhospitable world and real magic
happens in the aftermath.”
Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of The Family Fang
“A torch song to the power of jazz, determination and
serendipity…Bertino’s carefully crafted verbal cadence gives
Philadelphia a thumping heartbeat that captures the feel of the jazz
medium perfectly…Funny and wise, this first novel will leave readers
with smiles on their faces and a song in their hearts—something with a
little swing to it, naturally.”
“Angela Goethals’s rich and
resonant voice is perfectly suited to this stirring story about three
characters and one important day in their lives…Goethals delivers a range of
voices for each character—deftly showcasing their insecurities and attempts to
move past them. Goethals’s narration draws out words or cuts them short
emphatically to capture a sense of scat singing and create the moody elegance
of The Cat’s Pajamas—the jazz club where the stories of lost souls collide. Winner
of AudioFile Earphones Award.”