Published: February 12th, 2013 by Philomel Books
Length: 346 pages
Source: Borrowed a copy from my library.
It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer.
She devises a plan to get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.
With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.
THIS BOOK. I don’t have a single negative thing to say about it. I was already a big fan of Ruta Sepetys but this is my favorite novel of hers yet.
It was great to see Sepetys write something that isn’t WWII historical fiction. Out of the Easy is set in 1950s New Orleans and I loved how alive the book felt. In the time it took me to read the ~350 pages, I truly felt like I was a part of Josie’s world.
Josie has not had an easy life. She’s essentially lived on her own since she was 12 years old, as her mother is more concerned with making easy money than being a mother to her daughter. Josie’s mom is a prostitute and Josie spends her life trying to make sure she doesn’t end up like her mom. With that said, Josie still helps out Willie, the madam in charge of Josie’s mom and a few other women.
What I really liked was the complexity of Josie’s feelings regarding her life and her mom. She very clearly resents that she’s been on her own and hasn’t had the chance to live a “normal” life, but she does still care about her mom and is hurt by the fact that her mom doesn’t care about her. I felt like this was such a realistic portrayal of what it’s like to be in this kind of situation. So often kids who don’t have great parents resent that fact, but still hold onto a bit of hope that their parents might come around and step up their game.
This book had me addicted from page one. Even though the main plot doesn’t get going right away, there’s still so much going on with setting up the story and getting to know the main characters that you won’t feel bored at all. Even when there isn’t anything really going on, it feels like there is.
For me, the characters are what really make the story. The plot is interesting enough, but the characters brought the story alive. They’re quite complex and each one is different and unique. There are mobsters that are tough and will go to great lengths to get what they want. There are the prostitutes that work for Willie, each one with their own quirks. Of course there’s also Willie herself, who’s a tough woman who takes no crap from anyone. There’s Patrick, the boy Josie has worked and grown up with. And Jesse, a good friend of Josie’s who is always there for her. Some of the characters are frustrating and annoying and others will capture your heart within minutes.
I honestly don’t think I could love this book anymore than I do. I would 100% recommend this to you if you think it could be at all interesting. Even if you don’t think it would be interesting, I’d still recommend you pick it up because I bet you’d like it more than you think. In fact, I read this pretty much only because Ruta Sepetys wrote it. I thought for sure it would be merely an okay read and that it would trail behind her other books, but I was so wrong. I loved this from the first to the last page.
BY THE WAY: if any of you saw my post yesterday announcing that I’ll be participating in the Make Me Read It Readathon and the poll wasn’t working, it has been fixed! So make sure you head over and vote for what I’m going to read. 🙂