Title: Out of the Easy
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Pub info: Philomel Books, 2013; 346 pp
Genre / Audience: historical noir / YA
Caveats for Younger Readers: nothing graphic, but it's about a whorehouse, okay?
How do you resist a book about a girl trying to make it out of the Quarter, where her mother works for the most celebrated whorehouse in New Orleans?
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 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.
Status: finished 8/24/14
This is a novel full of atmosphere and brimming over with fun characters. 1950s New Orleans bursts into life under Sepetys's skillful pen, and I was full in, cheering for Josie the whole way. Add in her bookstore pal Patrick and hunky newcomer Jessie (I kept picturing Jude Law as he was in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) and you've got a winning combo. Were there a few cliches? Well, sure--the hooker with a heart of gold (more than one, actually), the staunchly loyal and affable chauffeur (kind of a Driving Miss Daisy type), to name a couple. But even these folks were so likeable that I was fine with having seen them before. I love Josie's spunk and her dream to go to college, and what she'll do to get there. I had a great time reading Out of the Easy, and I'm excited now to read Between Shades of Gray as well.
Ruta's debut novel, the YA historical Between Shades of Gray, earned her kudos across the board as well as placing her on the shortlist for several awards. She was born in Michigan (yay! My home state!) but now lives in Tennessee with her family. Currently, she's working on a third novel.
News about Ruta can be found on her website and Twitter feed. She's also active on Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest. Watch a cool trailer of Out of the Easy here, and note that the book has its own website separate from Ruta's right here.
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