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Here Kitty Kitty    by Jardine Libaire order for
Here Kitty Kitty
by Jardine Libaire
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Redheaded Lee is a lovely lost girl, an artist who hasn't lifted a brush for ages and who earns the income (that she overspends like there's no tomorrow) as manager of the Tribeca restaurant, 'a chic converted diner'. Lee's debt is out of control. She's a shopaholic addict who floats high over the surface of life, fuelled by drugs, booze and cigarettes. A friend calls her his 'favorite fucked-up party girl.'

Lee's life is a mess. How did it get that way? Seems that wildness turned into weakness after the departure of her lover Kai and the death of the mother who made her 'childhood into a paradise'. Lee has a 'sugar daddy' named Yves, who 'was beguiled instead of bewildered by my desperate morning champagne, my fur jackets and cowboy hats'. Is Lee his wild, immature kitty of the title? The catalyst for change in Lee's life is, ironically, introduced by Yves, who asks her to hire a new bartender. Lee sees Kelly as 'a little bit cowboy, a little bit Indian', an interloper and an enigma. Kelly shed his own crazy years after 'shit happened' to people he loved. Gradually, the two are drawn to each other, and Lee begins to get her act together. She adopts a kitten named Angel, remembers past passion and paints again, telling us that 'art begets art.'

Eventually, Lee does grow up, seeing 'So many land mines in this new territory called adulthood. Talent has a window. Freedom sometimes becomes a trap. We may die before we finish our dreams.' What I liked about Here Kitty Kitty is that Lee draws on her own resources - Jardine Libaire avoids the trite happily ever after ending, in which a dependent heroine is typically saved by romance. Though I wasn't sure I liked Lee or her story at first, both grew on me all the way to the very satisfactory conclusion.

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