Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (thoughts)
From the author’s website:
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 a police 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 a quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.
I loved Between Shades of Gray, a conviction I will share with anyone who listens (and even those who won’t). So it was with great excitement and some trepidation that I started Ruta Sepetys’ latest book. Yes, they’re both historical fiction, and yes both stories take place within 10 years of each other – but the settings and circumstances surrounding them are so vastly different that they might as well have taken place on different planets. I worried that Sepetys’ beautiful writing and heart-rendering story telling might be more suited to bleak Siberia than to bustling New Orleans.
However, by the time I got to the point in the book where I was so mad at one of the characters that I actually threw my book down, I realized that those worries had long since been forgotten.
What usually draws me into a book are the characters, and there are plenty of fantastic ones to choose from in Out of the Easy. Josie is bookish and cunning, unsure of herself but so determined. While she took a little time to warm up to, she became a protagonist I didn’t have a hard time rooting for.
Out of the Easy does feature two potential male leads, but thankfully never fully delves into a love triangle. Patrick is clean cut and sophisticated and it’s easy to see why Josie feels so drawn to him. And then we have Jesse. Well, Jesse has a lot of Jess Mariano-like characteristics. So yes. A fan of him.
And then there are the cast of characters from the Quarter. This is where the book really comes alive. Josie’s life is filled with an eclectic group of people who, from the outside, might look like they’d be nothing but terrible influences but who are, in reality, what make Josie the wonderful person she is.
It’s safe to say that Ruta Sepetys’ success with Between Shades of Gray wasn’t just a one off, but that just about any story is safe in her hands. While the first is my favourite of the two, Out of the Easy is definitely also worth your time.
(Also, it won’t make you cry quite as much. Maybe just a little bit.)