Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Out of the Easy - Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy book cover
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library || Hardcover

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. (from Goodreads)

Who knew that life in the Big Easy could be so hard? Reading Out of the Easy was a complete immersion into the hustle and bustle of New Orleans in the 1950s through the eyes of Josie Moraine, a tough, smart heroine who’s gotten the short end of the stick one too many times in life. Sepetys demonstrates her skill in seamlessly blending historical truths with a cast of fictional characters, and I eagerly lapped it all up. I was absorbed in Josie’s story from start to finish, and so I can highly recommend this novel.

Josie Moraine does not live an easy life. For starters, her mother is a prostitute who runs with the wrong crowd. Josie herself works in a bookshop and as the cleaning lady for the brothel her mother is a part of; they don’t pay much but it’s enough to support her sparse, simple lifestyle. These things preoccupy Josie’s perception of herself, leaving her feeling sullied by association. She feels like she cannot break free of this reputation, of her past and even of the city.

And yet, Josie has dreams. She dreams of going to college, and dreams of leaving New Orleans for a fresh start elsewhere. The quiet hope she nurtures is something that is, in equal turns, naïve and inspiring. Apart from her incessant belief in better things for herself, I was drawn to her intelligence, her passion for books and her ability to treat everyone in her world with equal respect (or at least as much respect at they deserved).

This may be Josie’s story, but it’s peppered with a cast of colorful characters from all walks of life. Sepetys takes the time to ensure that each character is properly introduced and utilized. I liked how I could easily distinguish between them, and keep them all straight in my mind! I particularly enjoyed reading about Willie, the brothel madam who has a tough exterior but a kind heart, and Cokie, the driver who is a wonderful friend and father-like figure to Josie. Oh, and Jesse – wildly attractive and crushable Jesse, who I was totally rooting for since his first appearance.

The story, however, is really what made Out of the Easy so appealing. As a reader, I felt that there were two main plotlines to follow: Josie’s dream of going to college and how she goes about pursuing it, and the mysterious death that her mother may be involved with. Sepetys has a firm grasp on these two main stories, but allows them to intermingle in various capacities – including the various relationships Josie has with other characters. It takes a deft hand to make this all work while ensuring the reader won’t be confused, but Sepetys succeeds in writing it in a way that does not at all feel contrived.

Out of the Easy is riddled with historical nuances, colorful depictions of the setting and characters brought to life. It’s incredibly well-crafted, and it kept me riveted to Josie’s story up until the end. If you’re hesitant to try out historical fiction, I can assure you that it is excellent novels like this one that remind me why I enjoy the genre so much. I can certainly recommend Out of the Easy as a quality read (and one that left me wanting to go to New Orleans even more than I already do!).

 This review was posted as part of It Takes Two.
For more information about this feature, click here. 

25 comments:

  1. This book strikes me as one of those that looks like it could cross over from upper YA to even adult reads, and I haven't seen too many of those lately. I definitely like the sound of it, too, as it's different than a lot of what I've read as of late.

    Fabulous review, Alexa!

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  2. I really enjoyed this book, too. I loved Josie and was really rooting for her to get into college and out of that city. New Orleans was like its own character in the book. I don't usually read historical fiction, but I did like this one. Great review!
    -Natalie @Natflix&Books

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  3. I've been dying to read this and will try to get it from the library soon. I've heard such amazing things about both this and Between Shades of Gray- she seems to be an ace at writing historical fiction.

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  4. I keep forgetting about this one! It sounds so wonderful and I've heard nothing but good things about it. Must give it a try!

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  5. This is a great review. I agree, that it's a good one for people who are hesitant about historical fiction. Thanks.

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  6. Complete immersion and colorful characters... yes! The two things I really appreciated about this book as well. Have you read Between Shades of Gray? Historical fiction is not my thing, so I remembered picking it up but putting it down. I really think I should give it another shot, especially since Out of the Easy turned out so well.

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  7. I have heard many great things about this book. I am only concerned the time period is something I won't like, but I really loved CODE NAME VERITY regardless of time period so I'm hoping it's the same for this one.

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  8. Wow, Out of the Easy sounds amazing. I've heard good things about the author, but I haven't read her books. I do like historical fiction, though, so I think I should give this one a try. Josie sounds like a character I could really like.

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  9. Yes! I have heard SO much about this book. Besides the fact that everyone is completely enamored with the setting (and honestly, who wouldn't be) but the strong voice and writing, the inescapable plot... I need it!

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  10. I'm so excited I stumbled upon your blog! You now have a new follower and I can't wait to see what you recommend.

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  11. I loved this book so much. I felt like this was a YA/new adult/adult crossover. She was older than characters in most YA book and if this is what New Adult is, count me in 100%.

    Everyone really needs to read this one.

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  12. I really wanna read more books with a New Orleans setting. I love that place, even tho I've never been, lol. You've def got me interested in this one. That Jesse sounds delish! Great review!

    Vivian
    Confessions of a Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

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  13. Wonderful review. I haven't gotten the chance to read Out of the Easy yet, but hope to soon. I love the fact that it's set in the French Quarter of New Orleans during the 1950s. Sounds so good:)

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  14. definitely one for me to pick up. Great review, Alexa.

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  15. I'm so happy you enjoyed this one! Ruta Sepetys is one of my fave YA authors and this book was just simply amazing. Loved your review :)

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  16. I liked the writing of this one a lot! I def agree the setting was colourful and I need to check out Ruta's other book.

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  17. Loved this book! My review goes up tonight actually! Great minds :) Lovely review and I was the same way after reading it, I need to go to New Orleans like yesterday! :)

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  18. New Orleans is such a beautiful place, I hope you get to visit sometime!

    My coblogger K didn't like this one at all, but I've seen so many positive reviews in addition to yours that I still want to read it sometime. :) Thanks for the review.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  19. I want to read this one mainly from the setting (New Orleans!) because it's fascinating to me, plus the time period kinda jumps out at me. This one sounds like a powerful, character-driven novel for sure. I'm glad you liked it so much, Alexa! I can tell from the way you talked about it that it resonated with you.


    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

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  20. I don't read nearly enough historical fiction, but I really like the sound of this one! The setting of New Orleans intrigues me, and I'm glad that the author succeeded in writing such a well-crafted story. I should check it out!

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  21. I really loved this book too-I wasn't sure about the 1950s or NOLA setting but they were perfect and really added to the entire atmosphere of the novel.

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  22. "Out of the Easy is riddled with historical nuances, colorful depictions of the setting and characters brought to life. It’s incredibly well-crafted, and it kept me riveted to Josie’s story up until the end." <--- I think I will love this book! Some of my favorite books are historical fiction with a wonderfully rich setting (for example In the Shadow of Blackbirds). And your review really convinced me that this is a wonderful story that will only complement the world it is set in! I had heard good things about it but I am even more excited now to pick this up! I will definitely make it a priority! Thanks for the fantastic review, Alexa!

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  23. Yes! I LOVE the characters of this book, all of them were so well drawn, and I loved them (particularly Jesse and Willie, yes). I love that she was able to balance several plot threads without it getting cris-crossed and confusing. Such a lovely book, I really want more from this author.

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  24. My favorite part of this book was definitely the setting and atmosphere of New Orleans in the 50s. I thought Sepetys did a really excellent job with it. I was a bit disappointed in some areas, but the setting won me over. Glad you really liked this one, Alexa!

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  25. I don't think my heart could take it but I enjoyed your review and it sounds fantastic.

    Marlene Detierro (San Antonio Local SEO)

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