Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on 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.
My take: 4 looks
Okay, it was a cute story, and I liked how the characters merged and criss-crossed as the story developed. However, this 4 looks comes primarily from the writing, which is clever, sharp, and precise. The characters are on-point and brilliantly drawn and developed. I was firmly rooting for Madeleine, Sarina, and Lorca; and even Principal Randles became a little soft to me at the end. When the novel was over, I wanted more of Ben and Louisa, and was keen to know what happened to Alex. That is the sign of a great novel: to leave the reader wanting more.
I will definitely read more by this author, and will promote this jewel to everyone I know.