Release Date: February 2013
Publisher: Penguin | Philomel
Pages: 346 pages
Source & Format: Gifted; Hardcover
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads)
It's 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmer 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.
Thoughts on Out of the Easy
I'd previously read and enjoyed Ruta Sepetys' first novel, Between Shades of Gray, so I was intrigued by Out of the Easy when it first came out. I didn't rush to buy it or read it, and I'm not sure exactly. But I owe some major thanks to Cassie because it was her love for this book that finally put it on my radar. I asked for it for Christmas, and I'm really so glad that I did!
One of the things I loved most about Out of the Easy is that it was so different from Between Shades of Gray! Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the latter book. But it's so nice when you find an author who writes consistently well-researched books, even when they're in totally different places and time periods. Some historical fiction authors tend to focus on specific time periods or places in their books, and I liked the Sepetys is clearly showing her range with the two stories she's written thus far.
Out of the Easy is set in New Orleans in 1950, which made it a really fun read. It was so unique! I don't think I've read much set in New Orleans, and I can't think of anything I've read set there during this particular time period. The setting just came alive for me! I loved that it was a backdrop for the larger story, but it also played a part in what was going on. The vibrant city and its culture were crucial to this book, and I felt like I could tell that Sepetys had really done her homework in that area. I loved all the small details about the place and time period because those are the things that make a book feel special.
Josie Moraine in the seventeen-year-old heroine, and I just loved her so much. She's the daughter of a prostitute and lives in the French Quarter, and she knows that she's got to make her own way in life. All she really wants is to go to college, but she fears that she'll never be able to escape her mother and the life she currently leads. She loves learning and books (yay!), and she dreams of a better future for herself. I love a heroine with a little pluck and a whole lot of ambition.
I've noted before that I'm a huge character reader, so I particularly loved that the characters really stood out in Out of the Easy. The people surrounding Josie were just as interesting and exciting as she was, and that made for excellent reading. The French Quarter and its inhabitants had such depth in this book, and I loved that it wasn't always clear who was "bad" and who was "good." The characters could be both at times, which is true in life, too. I'm always so impressed when secondary characters are complex, and it instantly makes me a fan when an author when is able to create a large cast of characters who all feel well developed.
There's a bit of a mystery in this book, but it's really the story of Josie growing up and finding her own voice. This is the kind of coming-of-age story that I really love, and it's even better that it was historical fiction! The characters and setting truly stole the show for me, but I did enjoy the plot, too. I liked the sweet romance and the fact that it was such a minor element. It was fitting for it to be included but also important that it was secondary to Josie's growth as a character.
I raced through Out of the Easy, and I really loved every minute I spent in its pages. I'm so impressed with Sepetys' talent for writing well-researched stories with complex, engaging characters and memorable settings. Talk about everything you want in a book! I loved the way Sepetys wrote certain sentences - little phrases and things just jumped out at me and made me really love the story. I didn't have a huge emotional connection to the book, and that's the only element that was missing for me that would have made this book a favorite. But I still highly recommend it, and I look forward to more from Sepetys in the future!
"I leapt eagerly into books. The characters' lives were so much more interesting than the lonely heartbeat of my own."