Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Read By: Lauren Fortgang
Length: 9 hours and 51 minutes
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 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.
Books that I enjoy always force me (yes – I mean force, because I pride myself on being a cold hearted mystery of a person most of the time, thank you) to show some type of emotion. It is rare, though, that I actually tear up and have to take a second to regain my composure while I am reading. This book made me do that on more than one occasion. Gosh darn you, Ruta Sepetys, and your ability to make me FEEL!
There is a noticeable different in the tone of this book versus the others that Sepetys has written. I have read both Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea, and they are such awfully sad tragedies. That isn’t to say that this book is not tragic, because it is, but it is tragic in a very different way. I find it quite hard to explain, actually. This one isn’t about a military tragedy, and while it is historical it isn’t about one single event. So it’s not tragic in the “war is terrible, so many people died” kind of way. It’s tragic because it sheds light on the difficulties of Josie’s situation and the life that she was thrown into.
While this book is focused in New Orleans in the 1950’s, I do not think that the life and hardships that Josie endures are concentrated to only that location and era. I think her story is relatable to many young people, even today. It is not farfetched or unrealistic to think that someone today could be dealing with similar situations or leading a similar life to the one that Josie leads. I think that is part of the reason why this book impacted me the way that it did, realizing and understanding that this is reality for some children and teenagers. That just broke my heart.
All of the characters in this book were incredibly well developed. They were given history and personalities, which made it easy to connect with them. I fell in love with so many of the, but seriously loathed others. I enjoy contrasting characters, though. They make reading a book more fun! Everyone loves to hate a bad guy sometimes, right?
Last thing to note, although “stuck” in a difficult situation, I really enjoyed Josie’s makeshift family. It was heartwarming to see how people around Josie come together to form a type of family for her, which was an area that she was seriously lacking in (thanks for nothing, stupid mother who I really hate). A valuable lesson that not all people are bad, and that blood does not necessarily make family.
As always, highly encourage and recommend everyone to read this book. Ruta, you can still do no wrong in my eyes!
This book really made me want to go to New Orleans. Have you ever been? I feel like it has so much hidden potential outside of Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras, which is what everyone knows it for.