Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Realistic Fiction, Thriller Publication.Date February 12th 2013 Pages: 348 Published By: Philomel Books | Website Ruta Sepetys
Out Of The Easy on Goodreads My review copy: Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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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.
My mother's a prostitute. Not the filthy, streetwalking kind. She's actually quite pretty, fairly well spoken, and has lovely clothes. But she sleeps with men for money or gifts, and according to the dictionary, that makes her a prostitute.
Willie said normal was boring and that I should be grateful that I had a touch of spice. She said no one cared about boring people, and when they died, they were forgotten, like something that slips behind the dresser. Sometimes I wanted to slip behind the dresser. Being normal sounded perfectly wonderful.
"Welcome back," said Dora, dressed in apple green satin with a huge bow that looked like a melted rainbow."What the hell is that?" said Willie."Something special for the rich Mexicans that are coming," said Dora. She twirled around for Willie."They're Cubans, not Mexicans! Go change into your velvet gown. You're a prostitute , not a pinata, for God's sake."
"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."
Out Of The Easy is a gloomy yet - in many ways - inspiring book that explores themes such as poverty, prostitution, mental illness, abandonment, murder, abuse and making one's own destiny. It's a story of a girl who dreams of a normal life - a life that doesn't involve cleaning brothels, sleeping in a book store and constantly trying to appease her abusive, Hollywood-star-wannabe prostitute mother. An engaging, thoroughly captivating tale full of phenomenally depicted settings and masterfully fleshed-out characters that you'll never forget.
17 year-old Josie Moraine has never had it easy. Her mother, a self-absorbed and thieving prostitute in a Conti Street brothel, has made it clear to her that she was nothing more than a burden and a mistake. Her father is unknown, he could be any one of her mother's many clients. Despite being abused, neglected and unloved, Josie's determined to get away from the filthy streets of French Quarter and make a good life for herself. She dreams of attending Smith College in Northampton. She's saving every hard-earned penny, hoping to one day escape from the Big Easy. When her mother leaves for California with a brutal criminal, Cincinnati, Josie is worried, but also relieved. But before long, she learns that her senseless mother managed to make a mess out of her life yet again, leaving her with a dead-man's watch, a mob debt and entangled in a high-profile murder case.
Well-read, street-smart and strong-willed, Josie is a phenomenal lead character. Her story really pulled on my heartstrings. She's the kind of girl you can relate to, even though your lives and personalities are worlds apart. She's kind, understanding, giving, but she can also be fierce and unstoppable. She's gone through so much! She's more mature than any other girl her age, clever, thoughtful and not easily broken. I admired her and cheered for her. Ruta Sepetys did an amazing job creating three-dimensional characters. All her characters - from the crude but caring madam, to the two love interests - are written with exceptional clarity, authenticity and conviction. Having first-hand experience with mental illness (Alzheimers), I was especially moved by Charlie's story. The passages describing his violent behavior and how it affected his son, Patrick, were truly heartbreaking. Sepetys wrote about his suffering with frankness and sensitivity and I must say I teared up a few times.
Sepetys prose is flavorful, descriptive and deeply penetrating. I didn't just read Out Of The Easy, I gobbled it down. It definitely was an unforgettable reading experience, full of thought-provoking passages, unique New Orleans atmosphere, authenticity and breathtaking visuals. Most of all, it was a beautiful and sophisticated story - both touching and inspiring - about life, dreams, and self-esteem. A story about the harsh reality of the New Orleans French Quarter, rich people with broken souls, prostitutes, gamblers and criminals. And one girl determined to break away from the life she's told she's destined to live. A reflective story that wraps its arms around you like a soft blanket and holds you in a tight grip all the way through. I found myself lost in the world Ruta Sepetys so skilfully crafted. Her writing style had me hooked from the opening lines. I admit, I became a Sepetys junkie.
Out Of The Easy is a soul-stirring and fascinating story, written with care for historical and cultural detail. Sensual, rich and perfectly satisfying. Poignant. All in all, it's a phenomenal tale written by a very capable writer with undeniable talent for words and character development. I highly recommend picking it up, it's one book you really don't want to miss!