by Ruta Sepetys 02/12/13
Publisher: Philomel Books
Amazon, B&N, Goodreads
It's 1950 in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and 18‐year‐old Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. Having grown up in a brothel, the daughter of a prostitute, Josie’s prospects seem dim. But she dreams of a bright future, her goal being to leave New Orleans, leave all of Louisiana, and go to Smith College. But how is this possible for a girl with her background and practically no money? Josie is smart and resourceful. And she’s on a mission. Josie will go to great lengths to make this happen, and relying on her street smarts, she devises a plan. But her plan is dangerous, and she gets into some trouble along the way. Not only does she find herself wrapped up in a murder mystery, holding a dead man’s watch and mistakenly rips off a major mob boss. Josie’s in deep and she needs to find a way out. What lengths will she go to free herself—from her mother, from the mob, and from New Orleans.
OUT of the EASY by Ruta Sepetys is a story about love, heartache and the decisions one makes that can forever alter the course of their lives. Set in 1950 New Orleans with Josie Moraine as the clever and enterprising heroine who wants nothing more than to escape the big easy and her shabby past. Yet, leaving her past behind is never as easy as she would hope.
As I began reading OUT of the EASY I was quickly swept into the current of it's compelling storyline and heroine. Witnessing Josie Moraine navigate through the dark underworld of New Orleans was mesmerizing, addicting and life affirming. I had never felt so attached to a character in a long time for she was written with such depth and emotion that I could clearly feel her pain, embarrassment and her desperate need to get way. She is resilient in the face of adversary and tries her best to make the right choices but at times falls short of her goals. I have to say that one of her decisions almost made me physically sick to my stomach and I was sad that I could barely contain my frustration. It is a moment that I will remember for a long time.
Besides Josie's impressive character, OUT of the EASY was filled with a memorable cast that made this story prevail and shine. One of my favorite characters was Willie Woodley, an outspoken and discriminating madame that I learned to fear and adore in equal measure. She was fiercely loyal to Josie and had some of the best lines in OUT of the EASY. This passage is one of my favorites because Willie always spoke the truth with no filter and while it was harsh, it spoke volumes.
"You're salted peanuts," said Willie.
"What? What's that supposed to mean?"
"You're salted peanuts, and those people out East are petits fours. Don't be cliche',thinking you're going to be Orphan Annie, who winds up in some kind of castle. you're salted peanuts, Jo, and there's nothing wrong with salted peanuts. But salted peanuts aren't served with petits fours."
Not only did OUT of the EASY have a captivating storyline but it also showcased a moment in time of American prosperity when the concept of a picture perfect family was new, yet impossible to achieve and the lure of New Orleans proved to be the perfect backdrop for release. It is the seduction of this city along with Rutaut Sepetys attention to detail and skilled storytelling that makes OUT of the EASY a stellar read.
OUT of the EASY is an amazing novel and well worth the time spent reading it. I recommend it to teens and adults alike for it has a meaningful message that is truthful and relevent. Every day we put on our shoes and hope that our feet guide us in the right direction, but there are moments when we are taken down a road that can only lead to destruction...Yet, there is always hope that we can turn and walk the other way.