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.
Published February 12th 2013 by Penguin Audio
Five stars: An exceptionally written book with larger than life characters that takes you back to New Orleans in the 1950s with all of its flaws and secrets.
Josie Moraine is seventeen and the daughter of a prostitute. All of her life, Josie has fought to be normal, but that is next to impossible considering her mother’s profession, lack of parental support and that fact that the closest thing she has to a mother is Willie, the madam. Nevertheless, Josie has fought to succeed and to find her way. Thanks to the kindly owner of a bookshop, she has a quiet place to live, a job and friends. Then A couple of chance encounters, cause Josie to start to dream of a life outside of New Orleans, away from her shameful past. Can Josie ever escape New Orleans?
What I Liked:
- This is my second book by Ms. Septeys and it won’t be my last. Ms. Septeys is a superb writer who crafts vibrant, larger than life characters, expertly woven plots, and richly detailed settings. This is an amazing coming of age story with a plucky heroine who tries to escape her sordid past. This is also a tale that exposes the darker side of New Orleans in the 1950s. A must read for anyone who appreciates fine literature.
- The characters in this book are outstanding. Josie Moraine is a smart, driven young lady who has fought to overcome her failed upbringing. I loved her fierceness, her strong work ethic, and her desire to succeed. Willie Woodley, the madam of the New Orleans whorehouse, is the shining star. I loved Willie. She is cunning, sophisticated, connected, and so smart. I loved her no nonsense attitude and her shrewd business sense. She has a hard exterior, but underneath she has a big heart. I adored Willie! Cokie, the quadroon cabbie is another outstanding character. Cokie is generous, protective and funny. I loved how he looked after Josie and believed in her. Finally, I was fascinated by Josie’s mother. She was egocentric, crass and downright awful, but she always grabbed my attention with her ridiculous behavior. Needless to say, this book is worth reading just for the characters.
- However, there are other reasons to read the book. The writing is superb. It is rich with detail, well researched and lovely. If you haven’t read Ms. Septeys, do it. This is a bit lighter than her other titles, so start here.
- I loved the New Orleans setting. This book gives us a different angle. The reader gets to explore the city during the 1950s, a time that is over romanticized. However, Ms. Sepetys gives us another angle. She peels back the false veneer and shows us the real version. Those lovely put together fifties housewives, are exposed. It was intriguing to see the more sordid side of life in the fifties. I especially liked the author’s note at the end where she discusses her inspiration for the story and why she chose to show the 1950s in realistic way.
- This is a coming of age story, but also so much more. I want to say a great deal more about this book, but I don’t want to spoil it. Pick it up and read it and enjoy the ride.
- The audiobook version narrated by Lauren Fortgang is well worth the listen. Ms. Fortgang did an exceptional job with the characters and the accents. I thought she brought the characters to life.
And The Not So Much:
- The ending was too open ended for me. I didn’t want the story to end. I wanted to see Josie follow her path, and find out how things worked out for her. I hope the author will consider a sequel.
- I was bothered that the story line with Josie’s mother was left open ended. I wanted her to get what she deserved.
- Willie was the highlight of the book for me, and I would love to learn so much more about her. I wanted to see how Willie chose her profession and how she established herself. In fact, I would be ecstatic if the author wrote a book all about Willie.
- I also wanted to follow up on Patrick. What was the deal with Patrick and his romantic interest?
Out of the Easy is an exceptional read. I loved the rich, diverse cast of characters. This is a book to read and savor because of the gorgeous writing, the intriguing story and the setting. Ms. Sepetys is no fluke. If you have yet to read her work, do it. I am sorry I didn’t read her books sooner.
I borrowed a copy of this book from the library. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.
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