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 to 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” is one of the more interesting novels I have come across lately, as it is a historic novel set in New Orleans during the 1950s. Ruta Sepetys has a knack for creating beautiful historically accurate novels, that give depth and insight as to what life might have been like during those times, but she spins it in such a way that you almost forget that what you’re reading is historical. In “Out of the Easy”, we meet main character Josie Maran. She is intelligent, caring, and intuitive, but none of these wonderful qualities is able to show itself at its full potential because she is overshadowed by one simple fact, her mother is a prostitute.
Josie lives an extremely different life, especially when compared to other girls her age. Josie has grown up in a brothel and things are even more perplexing because the owner of the brothel acts more like a mother figure towards her than her actual mother. Even though Josie’s life is extremely unconventional, she has been able to create a support system around herself consisting of the other prostitutes at the brothel who seem to have hearts of gold, and the various other people involved in the brothel business.
Josie’s mother has been extremely problematic her entire childhood, and this has caused Josie to find solace in an ordinary bookshop in town. The owner Charlie acts as a father figure to Josie and gives her a place to stay, away from the madness at the brothel. Josie’s life consists of working at the bookstore with Charlie’s son Patrick, working as a maid at the brothel, and overall just continuing to live her life going round and round in a circle that is seemingly never ending. That is, until Josie meets a kind stranger by the name of Charlotte. Charlotte gives Josie hope for a normal life and insists that Josie attempt to escape the life she’s been living by applying to college out east.
The novel centers around Josie’s struggle to overcome the difficult life she was born into, and how even when thousands of miles away, her mother still thrusts her problems onto her. Ruta Sepetys creates a story full of love, innocence, blackmail, death, murder, and overall a sense to break free of the shackles life has put on you. Out of the Easy is a beautifully crafted coming of age story, where a teenage girl tries to overcome things most people could never imagine dealing with. Overall, I believe Sepetys has created a novel full of twists and turns that will keep you flipping through pages, if you’re looking for something a little different from your standard story, be sure to pick this up!
Writing Quality: 4.5/5
Content Quality: 4.5/5