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264: Marie-Helene Bertino's 2 AM AT THE CAT'S PAJAMAS - December 2023 Book Club


Episode graphic: coer of Marie-Helene Bertino's 2 AM at the Cat's Pajamas with text episode 264, December 2023 Book Club

What happens when a nine-year-old girl decides she's determined to sing at Philadelphia's renowned jazz club? Marie-Helene Bertino's 2 AM at the Cat’s Pajamas (Libro.fm) is the story of Madeleine Altimari and other people all trying to reach their goals on the eve of Christmas Eve.


Listen in to hear our thoughts and our pairings for this book club pick, including Abdi Nazemian’s Like a Love Story (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) and Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm).


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Bookish Check-in

Ashley - Mike Gayle’s All the Lonely People (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Jen - Angie Kim’s Happiness Falls (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


Book Club Pick

Marie-Helene Bertino's 2 AM at The Cat’s Pajamas (Libro.fm)


Our Pairings

Ashley - Abdi Nazemian’s Like a Love Story (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Jen - Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


Flashback - December 2022

Listen in to hear what we were doing in December of 2022, and hop over to social media to tell us what you were doing then!


(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)


Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.

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Bookish Check-in


Ashley was reading...


Book cover of Mike Gayle’s All the Lonely People

Mike Gayle’s All the Lonely People (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


From the Publisher: "In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship, and fulfillment. But it's a lie. In reality, Hubert's days are all the same, dragging on without him seeing a single soul.


"Until he receives some good news—good news that in one way turns out to be the worst news ever, news that will force him out again, into a world he has long since turned his back on. The news that his daughter is coming for a visit.


"Now Hubert faces a seemingly impossible task: to make his real life resemble his fake life before the truth comes out.


"Along the way Hubert stumbles across a second chance at love, renews a cherished friendship, and finds himself roped into an audacious community scheme that seeks to end loneliness once and for all . . .


"Life is certainly beginning to happen to Hubert Bird. But with the origin of his earlier isolation always lurking in the shadows, will he ever get to live the life he's pretended to have for so long?"

Jen was reading...


Angie Kim’s Happiness Falls Book Cover

Angie Kim’s Happiness Falls (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


From the Publisher:

“'We didn’t call the police right away.' Those are the electric first words of this extraordinary novel about a biracial Korean American family in Virginia whose lives are upended when their beloved father and husband goes missing.


"Mia, the irreverent, hyperanalytical twenty-year-old daughter, has an explanation for everything—which is why she isn’t initially concerned when her father and younger brother Eugene don’t return from a walk in a nearby park. They must have lost their phone. Or stopped for an errand somewhere. But by the time Mia’s brother runs through the front door bloody and alone, it becomes clear that the father in this tight-knit family is missing and the only witness is Eugene, who has the rare genetic condition Angelman syndrome and cannot speak.


"What follows is both a ticking-clock investigation into the whereabouts of a father and an emotionally rich portrait of a family whose most personal secrets just may be at the heart of his disappearance. Full of shocking twists and fascinating questions of love, language, and human connection, Happiness Falls is a mystery, a family drama, and a novel of profound philosophical inquiry. With all the powerful storytelling she brought to her award-winning debut, Miracle Creek, Angie Kim turns the missing-person story into something wholly original, creating an indelible tale of a family who must go to remarkable lengths to truly understand one another."


Our December 2023 Book Club Pick


Marie-Helene Bertino's 2 AM at The Cat’s Pajamas (Libro.fm)


From the Publisher: "Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, rebellious nine-year-old who also happens to be an aspiring jazz singer. Still mourning the recent death of her mother, and caring for her grief-stricken father, she doesn’t realize that on the eve of Christmas Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia's legendary jazz club The Cat's Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat's Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.


"Together, Madeleine, Sarina, and Lorca will discover life’s endless possibilities over the course of one magical night. A vivacious, charming and moving debut, 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas will capture your heart and have you laughing out loud."


Our Pairings

Ashley recommended...


Abdi Nazemian’s Like a Love Story Book Cover

Abdi Nazemian’s Like a Love Story (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


From the Publisher:

"It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.


"Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.


"Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance...until she falls for Reza and they start dating.


"Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.


"As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart—and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known."


Jen recommended...


Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry Book Cover

Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


From the Publisher:

"Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.


"When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.


"My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different."

 

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