When I found out that Ruta Sepetys was going to be signing her book Between Shades of Grey at BEA, I knew I had to be in that line. What I didn’t know at the time was that a certain number of people in line would be receiving a special advanced copy of her next book Out of the Easy. How awesome was that? So awesome!
I have to admit though I was a little nervous as to rather or not this new book would meet my expectations especially with how much I loved Between Shades of Grey. I also wasn’t sure what to think of the plot as it has the potential to be pretty controversial. But it turns out that I really had nothing to fear because my second experience with Ruta Sepetys was just as good as the first one. Maybe even better!
Set in 1950’s in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Out of the Easy tells the story of seventeen year old Josie Moraine. Josie is the daughter of a local brothel prostitute, and she is desperate to get out of the Big Easy. She wants so much more out of her life than what the town has to offer. Yet before she can even get her foot of the door, she finds herself tangled up in the investigation of a mysterious death of a wealthy visitor where her mother in the primary suspect. Suddenly, Josie can’t ignore her instinct to find the truth, and before she knows it she is caught up in the same world she wants to leave, and the fact that it doesn’t seem to really want to let her out could be her ultimate test.
I could not put this story down for anything, and I always hated to whenever I really had to. I just enjoyed it THAT much! Honestly, it was really different from anything that I’ve ever read before. I loved the setting. It was nitty and gritty but it was also very real. Everything is so well drawn out, and accurate that it feels as if you have really been transported to the exact location. I mean, I’ve never been to modern day New Orleans before but, in my mind, I truly feel like I’ve been there in the 1950’s (which is pretty extraordinary considering I wasn’t even alive yet). I also think that the setting made me enjoy the storyline that much more because it was so interconnected with it. Almost everything that happened in the story was somehow related to the setting, and really did happen because things were so messed up in the area.
My heart desperately went out for the main character, Josie through out the entire book. I wanted her to be able to make the right choices, and I wanted her to be able to receive her happy ending. Yet at the same time, I couldn’t help be fearful for Josie. She was so gutsy and smart, and had such a strong ambition, and drive but all that she had ever known in her life was the Quarter. The people within the Quarter never judged her (except for when they thought that she was trying to escape) but people outside the Quarter did. Especially those with a higher social status or those who simply could not understand how someone could live the way that Josie’s friends and family had to (and not necessarily by choice). I loved the comparisons of the rich and the poor within the Quarter (so well done!). I also really liked the way that Ruta Sepetys made Josie’s journey, a journey of self discovery, because I feel that Josie learned so much about herself and about the area that she called home that when it came time for her to decide if she really wanted to leave or not, she was more than capable of making that decision.
Not only did my heart go out to Josie but all the other characters as well. Out of the Easy is packed full of wonderful characters. There really is not a poorly written character in the bunch. All of them are so well fleshed out, even the ones I came to despise, and I felt like I knew them all. Also, all of the relationships and friendships are incredibly fleshed out as well. There is a reason for every connection, and every connection has been built over time. There are really no insta-connections in this book, and the ones that appear to be insta-connections are evenly fleshed out by the end of the book. Josie has an amazing support system in her life (although it does take her a bit of time to realize it), and even when that support system goes against terrible odds, it is still able to stand strong because everyone is standing together. It is also this support system that helps Josie discover who she really is, and who she does and does not want to be.
Out of the Easy is a glimpse into one life but it is a life that can resonate with so many regardless of the time period that you live in. It is beautifully written, heartbreakingly real, and it opens your eyes to a world that you may not have come in contact with before. If you’re a fan of Ruta Sepetys debut novel, or a fan of historical fiction, or are just looking for something new to check out within the realm of YA novels I highly recommend this one to you.
Disclosure: Received advance copy at BEA
Other reviews of Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys:
Confessions of a Book Addict: “Sepetys is a brilliant author and she has wiggled her way into my heart as one of my favorite authors along with Out of the Easy being one of my favorite books. I highly recommend it…”
Fiction Folio: “I cannot recommend Out of the Easy enough people!!”