Book Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

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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?

Final Word

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: ☼☼☼☼☼

18 thoughts on “Book Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

  1. This. Sounds. So. Good. I’ve heard that from so many people, and this review just reinforces how much I need to read it! The said thing is I actually own it. Just haven’t read it yet 😦

    But you make the book sound soooo good! Great review 🙂

  2. I have heard of Between Shades of Grey but was a little put off by that title. Now, I run far away from anything with grey on the cover :), but this book sounds interesting, and I will look out for it in my library.

    Thanks for the recco.

  3. This book sounds so good, I’ll have to add it to my TBR list! I really like how you said that it had a vivid setting and that it was easy to like Josie! 🙂 Great review!

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

    • I can respect an author who isn’t afraid to use someone else’s words when they know a thing just can’t be said any better. 🙂 And in this case what was said needed to be said, that quote summed up the message behind this novel perfectly.

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