Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Out of the Easy - Ruta Sepetys


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


Out of the Easy was probably one of the best books I have read in a long time. The minute I finished it, I immediately regretted the time I took Between Shades of Gray out of the library and returned it unread. Because Sepetys is a fantastic writer. A really really fantastic writer and I plan to read anything at all that woman writes, even the untitled book on goodreads that I know absolutely nothing about.

Out of the Easy may be set in New Orleans in the 1950’s , but it doesn’t feel like historical fiction. Out of the Easy is a story that happens to take place in the past, though it isn’t completely defined by it. After reading this book I’ve decided that the world needs more books that are set in New Orleans in the 1950’s.  I’ve been reading so many trilogies and series recently that when I finished this book, I just expected that there would be another one. But there isn’t , as far as I know, and this fact broke my heart a little. If there was any book I would want a sequel for, this is the one. Sepetys left me with so many questions, I want to find out what happened to so many characters, especially Josie.

Speaking of Josie, she is without doubt a worthy heroine. Josie is the daughter of a prostitute, she lives in a world of vice and immorality, and wants desperately to leave. She is fiercely independent and strong willed. Josie feels overwhelmingly uncomfortable in the world she lives in, and even though it would be easier to sink to everyone elses level of corruption, she shows her strength and stands up for what she believes in, no matter how tough things get. Josie always holds her own, despite being pushed by nearly everyone around her.

Josie isn’t the only interesting character in the book. Her mother, Louise, has to be one of the most despicable characters I’ve come across in a long time. She is a horrendous mother, and I’ll leave you to find out why. Though Josie seems to live in a morally corrupt world, she seems to surround herself with ( for the most part) good people. Willie, the brothel owner, was an especially interesting character. She is a strikingly strong woman, and even though she is involved in something as shady as prostitution, she still tries her best to support and care for those she loves, and retains her own moral code.

Another interesting aspect of the novel was the prejudice and hypocrisy that Josie encounters throughout the narrative. Most people who meet Josie look down on her because she is the daughter of a prostitute, and spends a lot of her time in the brothel. All of her classmates, bar Jesse , mock her because of her home life. Charlotte’s uncle, Mr. a-name-I-can’t-remember ( I gave the book back to the library), looks at Josie like she’s something nasty stuck to the bottom of his shoe, even though he himself employs prostitutes. Sepetys also centres on the theme of ( hmm.. how do I put this) self betterment, maybe. She uses David Copperfield, to do this. Josie, like Copperfield, wants to improve her situation and make a better future for herself than the one her mother provided for her.

This novel is one of the best I’ve read in a very long time, and in me Sepetys has found a new fan.  This may be historical fiction, but Josie’s story transcends time and becomes a book that Just happens to be set in the past. I would highly recommend this to anyone who like YA fiction.
Five Stars *****

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I think I'll pick this up next time I go to the library, once I've finished the mountain of books I have borrowed :D