Published by Philomel on February 12th, 2013
Genres: historical, young adult
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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.
Out of the Easy was easily (harhar) a thousand times better than I expected it to be. Honestly, I only picked it up because I needed the square for Bookish Bingo. Instead of boring me to tears, instead this book was everything I look for in a coming of age novel, and everything I could ever hope for in a book set in the beautiful and atmospheric New Orleans. Ever since I was like six years old, I’ve had a fascination with the city, and I believe Sepetys really brought its vibrancy to life. I don’t really know how I’m supposed to write a review for a book that was basically 100% perfect, so instead, here is a list.
5 Reasons You Need to Read Out of the Easy (Yes, You)
I mean, everything from the cars to the clothes to the way the characters spoke was just plain cool. The book wasn’t overloaded with slang or anything, but the southern accents and just the right amount of lingo brought the time period to life. This isn’t the idealized pretty version of the 1950s that old white men in congress want to bring back. Out of the Easy has a grittiness to it and the characters come from all walks of life.
Jo is one of my favorite heroines in a long time. She’s exactly the kind of character I want to read about: confident, outgoing, extroverted. She casts a wide net of acquaintances and friends, and her eagerness to love and help people really brings the story to life. I love that she is so take-charge when it comes to her life and her decisions. She had to grow up and become very independent at a young age. She had her flaws too: a stubborn sense of pride, especially, that made it hard for those who loved her to help her when she needed it most. Jo was funny and actually smart. I’m just kind of obsessed with her, okay?
Just. Sexy mechanic/super smart college student/knight in shining armor. Absolutely the perfect love interest. He drove a motorcycle. He built a car from scratch. Alllll the girls (and a lot of the women) loved him. He has a mysterious past. Basically, he has all the trappings of your run of the mill bad boy, but took all of those tropes and turned them on their heads. He was thoughtful and sweet and honest and he believed in Jo so much and he was so encouraging and gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I love him I love him I love him.
4. The Bookstore
Jo and her best friend Patrick work at the bookstore Patrick’s father owns. They do the inventory and the purchasing and even restoration. They have games where they guess the kind of books the customer is there to buy. Jo lives in the apartment above the bookstore. So many key scenes and character developments happen at this store. It wasn’t shoved in to pander to the bookworm audience. The store is a huge part of Jo and her world and her every day routine.
5. The Fan Casting Possibilities
Every single character in Out of the Easy seemed so real to me. They were so unique and alive, they practically jumped right off the page. I loved their interactions with one another and how such a big city can feel like a small town. They all came together and formed this beautiful family. This is the kind of cast a reader begs for: colorful diversity, unique personalities, and a tangible bond of love and support for one another. I am getting teary just thinking about it. There were a ton of characters in this book, but each one felt wholly realized and fleshed out. It was so easy to see them as I read. So of course, I built my own fan cast in my head, starting with Jessica Lange as Willie, the madam at the brothel where Jo’s mom works.
I can’t explain to you guys how much I loved Out of the Easy. I laughed, I cringed, and I cried (twice.) I never wanted it to end. I wanted to just dive into the pages and live there forever. This book sneaked up on me in a way I was truly not expecting. I know this will go down as one of my favorites and I will be rereading it for a very long time.