Review: Out of the Easy
Out of the Easy
by Ruta Sepetys
Published: Philomel, imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group (February 12, 2013)
Recommended Reading Age: 15 & up
In a nutshell: It’s the 1950’s and the United States is full of ambition. Anything seems possible. Well, anything for almost anyone. Quick witted, recent high school graduate Josie Moraine wants out of the Big Easy. Ever since she arrived to New Orleans with her mother when she was 7-years-old, her mother’s irresponsibility and well-known reputation as a brusque prostitute has left her marked by locals as part of the fallen crowd. Making friends at school was never a possibility, but she does have a few people who care for her. Willie Woodley, the madam at the brothel where her mother works, is quite possibly the closet thing Josie has to a mother figure. Rough around the edges and a straight shooter, Willie is a business-woman with little sympathy or time for nonsense; but she does have a soft spot for Josie, and makes it a point to look after her. There’s also Charlie Marlowe. A few years after moving to New Orleans, Josie’s mother used to have violent fits and beat her, so Josie started hiding out in a bookshop in the Quarter after it closed for the day. The shopkeeper converted a back office into a miniature studio apartment, and in turn Josie stared working for him and became fast friends with his son, Patrick. Josie has high hopes to break free of the social stigmas her mother has cursed her with. She dreams of moving far away from New Orleans to start anew at a prominent college out East.
But it isn’t that easy.
A potential murder is committed in the city her mother is somehow caught up in it, leaving Josie with tough decisions…
Nowadays when I read a book, it’s hard for me not to read it from a parent’s perspective. I fell for this book hard. It’s quite possibly the best book I’ve read this year. I read it within a few days about a week ago, and I am still disturbed by Josie’s mother. Her behavior towards her daughter was hard for me to stomach it was so unnatural. A ball and chain wrapped around Josie’s ankle preventing any forward movement, any progress whatsoever. I couldn’t help but become fully invested in Josie, rooting for her to succeed.
Although each character was full of depth and wonderfully written, Willie Woodley, based on the famous real life madam, Norma Walllace, was by far my favorite personality. She was always a few steps ahead and she always saw people for who they really were. In one of the very first scenes the reader is introduced to Willie and her house on Conti Street; the long red carpet, the green brocades, and the lamps with black crystals dangling from the shades. It was within the very first conversation between Willie, Josie, and Josie’s mother that Willie’s character shines and also lays the precedent of the Josie’s and Willie’s relationship throughout the book.
Colorful characters, a quick paced plot, with a flair for mystery and suspense, you too will find yourself cheering (or questioning) the complex decisions Josie makes in Out of the Easy . It kept me wanting more to the very last line.
Don’t take my word for it: Review from Wrapped Up in Books
Source of book reviewed: Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher provided at ALA Midwinter.