Out of the Easy
March 7th 2013
Out of the Easy is set against the vivid backdrop of 1950s New Orleans. Written by New York Times bestselling author Ruth Sepetys, this novel has something for everyone: love, mystery, murder, blackmail and warmth.
Josie Moraine wants out of The Big Easy - she needs more than New Orleans can offer. Known locally as a brothel prostitute's daughter, she dreams of life at an elite college, far away from here.
But then a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie caught between her ambition and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans is luring Josie deeper in as she searches for the truth, and temptation beckons at every turn.
I feel a bit torn by this book, because on the one hand, I loved Josie's voice and the writing and the characters, but on the other hand, I never really felt like I knew where the book was going or why it was going there. The setting and the characters came alive with every page, though, so I feel like that kind of outweighs the problems that I did have with it, and I'll definitely be reading Between Shades of Grey at some point if the quality of writing is anywhere near Out of the Easy.
Josie was probably my favourite part about Out of The Easy. As I've said, her voice is so strong and it completely carries the story. I think it's fairly safe to say that Josie hasn't had a typically normal life. Her mother's a prostitute who doesn't really care too much for her daughter, and as a result Josie's been living in a small apartment in a bookshop whilst cleaning the brothel in the mornings. Josie wants more than that, though - she's a strong, intelligent girl and she dreams of going off to college. However, life doesn't really turn out in her favor and there's just one of the most heartbreaking moments I've read in a book near the end. Not, like, crying heartbreak, but after you get to know Josie and you so want her to achieve her dreams and get out, and it's like as soon as you read those pages and you read those words your heart just drops because of how sad you feel for Josie. I'm getting a but cryptic here, but I just wanted to talk about that moment even though I can't tell you what it actually is.
Josie's character arc is also pretty interesting, and I liked seeing her change with the circumstances, and just seeing how hard her life is. Well, I didn't *like* seeing her having a hard life, obviously, but it showed us a lot more about her motivation for getting out. A lot of the time when I was reading this, actually, it reminded me of A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly. I think it was the college think, and also because Mattie and Josie are fairly similar even though they're about 50 years and many states apart from each other.
Besides Josie, the side characters also made a lot of the book for me. I liked the two love interests individually, but for 2/3rds of the book I wasn't really sure what the point of them both really were. Well, Patrick I can understand, but I didn't really get Jesse's role. That is, until certain things about Patrick are revealed, which I was kind of surprised I didn't realise earlier on! I liked that development, though, even though I think I would've preferred it if it had been more central to the story. Willie and Cokie, the brothel madame (I think?) and the driver, were my favourites after Josie. I loved Willie, I really did, and the ending really made me cry. Writing this now, I realise that there is so much that I can't say unless I spoil it all. But even though that ending was sad, it was also unexpected and felt kind of out of place, and it wasn't as emotional as I think it could have been. Cokie was just lovely, though. I just want to give him a big hug. I hope he's okay.
There were some aspects of the plot that I really liked and possibly would have liked to have seen more of, like Patrick and Josie's mother - even though all that I did read of Josie's mother and Cincinatti, her scummy, intimidating boyfriend, made me want to take Josie away from her forever. She does some despicable things, and I still can't believe that Cincinatti would do all those things to her and her daughter and that she'd still pick him over her. My favourite parts were when Josie was in the bookshop that she works/lives in, just playing stupid games with Patrick. I also really liked Charlotte, the girl who makes Josie want to go to a good college in the first place! I wish we could have seen more of her too.
Overall, I really enjoyed Out of the Easy, but I felt that there were a lot of problems with the plot. The setting and writing was beautiful, and the characters came alive, though, so it's still worth a read if you like a vivid historical with a strong lead character.