Known amongst locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie Moraine 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.
I read a lot positive reviews for Between Shades of Gray last year but since I didn’t fancy peeking inside a Russian gulag, I waited for the publication of Out of the Easy: A gritty, poignant, troubled coming of age tale set in the 1950s New Orleans underbelly.
The book is beautifully written, weaving a vivid setting, memorable characters (Willie!), suspense, mystery and a tinge of romance together to form something alive and squirming. The characters practically leap off the pages – to shake hands; shove a knife against your ribs; or cop a sleazy squeeze – and the dialogue sizzles, peppered with period phrases like “old biddies”, “fellas” and “the skittle”…
Josie is an easy narrator to like as she’s tough, practical, hard working and kind – a gutsy gal. The start of the novel coincides with her first lie which seems innocuous enough initially, but one lie leads to another… In the end her secrets anchor the story as much as the murder mystery plot, her mother’s behavior and the fact that Jesse is sweet on her.
Josie has to ask herself: who does she want to be really?
A Francis Bacon quote at the end of the story echos perfectly how I feel about this prostitute laden YA novel:
There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
My Rating: ☼☼☼☼☼