Out Of The Easy | Ruta Sepetys | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Out Of The Easy | Ruta Sepetys | Book ReviewOut of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Also by this author: Between Shades of Gray, Salt to the Sea, Between Shades of Gray, I Must Betray You
Published by Penguin on 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Historical, United States, 20th Century, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Social Themes, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 346
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

"A haunting peek at the life of a teenage girl in 1950s New Orleans."--Entertainment Weekly

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.

Ruta Sepetys is fast becoming one of my go to authors for a solid read. Her latest book, Out Of The Easy, is another historical fiction but set in 1950s New Orleans instead of 1941 Lithuania. Despite the different settings, I found Sepetys’ latest book to have the same emotional draw as Between Shades Of Gray. I found myself feeling as invested in Out Of The Easy as I was with Sepetys’s debut. You need to give this book a shot, my friends, ESPECIALLY if you’re looking for a hard hitting historical book.

At a young age, Jo and her mom moved from Detroit to New Orleans, where her mother has gainful employment as a prostitute. Jo helps around the brothel by doing chores and making coffee for the madam, Willie. As she gets older, she finds employment at Marlowe’s bookstore alongside her best friend Patrick. As we read Out Of The Easy, we learn that Patrick’s dad, Charlie is suffering from something akin to dementia and Patrick and Jo do their best to hide it so he won’t end up in a psych ward.

Meanwhile, Jo’s mom is in trouble with the mob and is seeing this bad news abusive guy known as Cincinnati. When a rich man, Forest Hearne, comes into Marlowe’s to buy some books he makes the assumption that Jo is a college girl and is going to make something of herself. It is from there that the seed is planted in Jo’s head that she could leave the Big Easy and maybe attend a prestigious school, like say, Smith College. So, anyways, Forest Hearne ends up murdered and Jo is obsessed with the case and so much happens and I refuse to spoil you except to say the plotting is excellent and complex and wonderful.

Named for a famous madam, Jo is my favorite sort of main character. She’s strong in a carry on and do your best and dare to hope for something better sort of way. She has had the worst upbringing with a very terrible mother but she learns to rise above it. Honestly, Jo really carries Out Of The Easy and I loved that. She may not always be the most confident, but at least she tries and takes some shots (as in you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take) and I love that. I also loved that she was bookish and independent. She’s also the sort who knows what kind of path she wants in life and goes for it. Basically what I am saying is I loved her character to the moon and back.

Out Of The Easy contains a romance as well. It’s subtle and you sort of don’t realize the attraction is there until BAM it just kind of hits you. I am not sure how much sense that makes, but at first Jo is into one guy and it’s like, awww friends forever maybe lovers later. BUT THEN it’s like, oh this dude is totally wrong for her and this other guy is much more interesting. I loved how the romance played out and how unexpected it felt. It’s just nice to read a book where the romance isn’t in your face, but then you look back on what you just read and think yes, that made total sense and I can totally imagine Jo riding off into the sunset with her love interest.

If you found yourself loving the writing in Between Shades Of Gray, but are apprehensive about Out Of The Easy, relax. Sepetys’s latest book has flowing prose and short chapters and is that sort of read where you just one more chapter yourself until the end. It’s quite gripping and while the circumstances are totally different from her first book, you can still feel a sense of claustrophobia and danger as things close in on Jo. Yet despite the unfortunate circumstances there is still a thread of hope that I found myself clinging to as a reader and ultimately, I did feel rewarded after reading Out Of The Easy. There’s definitely a great payoff to be found within this book.


Alexa Loves Books – “a complete immersion into the hustle and bustle of New Orleans in the 1950”
Clear Eyes, Full Shelves – “I unabashedly want to shout out cheers for this fine novel.“
Cuddlebuggery – “I didn’t love Out of the Easy, but I think it’s worth a read if you’re interested.”

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I still haven’t read Between Shades of Gray, mostly because I’m chicken and feel like it’s going to leave me ugly sobbing, but I really want to read this one! I’ve seen nothing but good reviews about it. That aside though, I love the setting and the time period, I love the fact that here’s a girl faced with a crappy life and she doesn’t let it get her down! Hopefully I will get to this one soonly! Great review, as always!

  2. Oh my God, I’ve been seeing this cover for months and I don’t think I have EVER noticed the girl in the background. Am I freaking blind??

    This one is bumping up my to-read list and I guess I need to go add Between Shades of Gray.

  3. I have been wanting to read this one for a while! I really need to jump on it. Also Between Shades of Gray.

  4. I loved this book so much-the first release of 2013 that completely blew me away! Amazing historical fiction, lovely characters, and absolutely absorbing writing.

  5. This was my first experience with a Sepetys book, and I adored it. I loved the way she made the setting and the characters come alive completely for me. She wrote a story that was irresistible from the beginning, complete with twists and turns and lots of surprises. I’m definitely looking forward to reading Between Shades of Gray soon!

  6. I read and loved Between Shades of Gray but was a bit hesitant to read Out of the Easy because of the setting. I don’t mind reading about a brothel, but for some reason 1950s New Orleans doesn’t sound as appealing to me, and I’m not quite sure why. But I really should take your final words to heart there. I really enjoyed what Sepetys did with her debut novel and shouldn’t have too much reluctance to read her newest work. I also like how while Lina’s passion was art, Jo’s seems to be books/learning, which is a passion I can totally get behind. Great review!