Friday, June 24, 2016

Book Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

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. (Summary from Goodreads)

This book was one of the most unique tellings I've ever come across. Beginning with the first sentence, "my mother's a prostitute," Josie's story hooks you and then quickly reels you in character by character. The characters are beautifully developed from Josie's bookstore coworker, Patrick, (yes, she works in a bookstore :) to her eccentric boss Madam Willie, to Jesse the sweet boy down the street. You get to know each character and feel like they're your best friends too.

The setting itself is intriguing. 1950 New Orleans is jumping with blues music, brothels, mobsters in the streets - that is until the police start coming down hard after a high profile murder. The murder of a man that Josie met the day he died in the bookstore and slowly becomes obsessed with what happened to him, getting herself into more trouble when she discovers her mother might be involved.

But really all Josie wants is to get Out of the "Big" Easy and go to college, escaping the life her mother dropped her into and making something of herself.

I'm not a big historical fiction fan, but Ruta Sepetys keeps you captivated and puts you into Josie's life. It's like dropping into a pensieve. You're there with her, cheering her on.

(Side note, when I was lucky enough to meet Ruta at Book Con a few months ago, I had just finished this book and told her that I really needed a sequel. She said she'd been thinking about it and thought it was a good idea. She also said the story was based off of her mother's life, so she knew what happened to all the characters and just needed to write it all down. *Squee!*)

Have I mentioned yet that you should read this book? Well, you should. So go! Do all the reading! :)

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