Review: Out of Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Source: Hardcover, Published February 12, 2013 by Philomel Books
Verdict: Very Good/Excellent
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.
As soon as I read the description of Out of the Easy I knew it was a book I wanted to read. There is something so captivating, so intriguing about both the description and cover…
The story that weaves its way and drives Out of the Easy is quite a different yet fascinating one. What starts off as the seemingly natural death of wealthy out-of-towner in the French Quarter begins to unravel as multiple clues begin to point to something more sinister- and close to Josie. For reasons dear to heart, Josie is unable to leave the investigation into the man’s death alone. But as she simultaneously obsesses over the man’s death and meeting her goals to escape to an Ivy League life beyond New Orleans, Josie weaves herself further and further into lies with her closest friends- and unfortunately, with Willie.
The characters that fill the heady pages of Out of the Easy are what make this such a memorable and stand-out novel, I think. Not that the storyline or writing isn’t fantastic, but my goodness, the characters! I felt completely taken in with Josie; handsome Jesse; Willie’s glorious driver Cokie; Josie’s sorry excuse for a mother, Louise; and last but definitely not least, brothel madam Willie Woodley- a fascinating and multifaceted intriguing character.
In an opening chapter that introduces us to a seven-year old Josie- and a desperate for money Louise- we are given a glimpse of the enduring and undefined relationship that will form between Willie and Josie. In some fateful- and perhaps necessary twist- the acerbic, temperamental brothel madam Willie becomes a god/mother of sorts to Josie, whose biological mother is useless as a parent. And speaking of Louise: I’ve read a few novels in which I have loathed a parent, and Josie’s mother, the self-involved Louise, is one that really got under my skin. Reliably negligent, abusive in many ways, prone to stealing from her own daughter, she takes the cake in hideous parenting.
Out of the Easy is a high caliber YA novel, I think. The subject matter is just so compelling; the writing is sophisticated and beautiful- with room enough for a gorgeous, slow-to-unfold romance. (I think this book could easily make for an appealing adult read as well!). I am really looking forward to read more from Ruta Sepetys.
Note: This review, written by me, originally appeared on Fabbity Fab Book Reviews. Minor edits may have been made.