Publication date: March 7th 2013.
My rating: 4.5 stars.
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.
Several of my friends for sometime had been encouraging me to pick up a book by Ruta Sepetys. I think with Between Shades of Gray I was terrified of being left in a complete mess, so I knew it would be safer to go with Out of the Easy first.
Ruta’s gorgeous writing is evident from just the first few pages; she pours her heart and soul into every single word. That you lulled in by its beautiful presence with such beautiful prose. I was expecting a beautiful story, and we did get this, but it’s also a story tinged with heartache and loss. Josie Moraine is a girl who deserves so much more, having a mother as a prostitute people tend to make judgemental assumptions about her before they even got to know the real Josie. The real Josie despite having an uphill struggle in life with a mother who never gives a damn and not knowing her father tries to make the best out of every situation. She is intelligent, pretty and fun and thanks to people looking out for her is just getting by. But Josie doesn’t want to just get by, she wants more from New Orleans and she knows she deserves it. But the only way this is possible is by leaving every bad memory, and the friends who helped her behind. She knows it’s a big step, she does have the money, but most of all courage to make it?
I adored Josie Moraine, with a sharp head on her shoulders unlike her mother, I wanted more for her. I know she had great friends which looked out for her, but she didn’t deserve the life she had, cleaning after clients the night after, running around cleaning her mother’s mess, or even hiding because of her mother’s mess. I’ve come across some right old mother’s in previous books, but Josie’s mother was a right old piece of work, she had no care for anyone but for herself, she was either off her face or caught up with some criminal. What mother in their right mind steals from their daughter and then runs off with her criminal boyfriend and then leaves their daughter to clear up the mess afterwards? I just wished that her mother had left sooner, instead of stumbling back into her life and messing up her life all over again. Josie’s mother was a bit like a tornado, she left a destruction of mess every time she left. So I was glad when Mr Hearne visited the bookshop where Josie worked at and gave her the wakeup call she needed. It was unfortunate that his circumstances led to Josie taking this big step.
Poor Josie constantly had to face so many different battles. So I was grateful to the strong set of secondary characters that Josie had silently supporting her. Willie was one heck of a scary woman, but she was such a great judge of character, she knew how worthless Josie’s mother was and so in so many unspoken ways become a sort of surrogate mother to Josie. I liked how Willie was up to her eyeballs in her own business she had to take care of, but she was always alert to what was going on around her, even though no-one told her anything; she was always willing to help out in any way possible. And there was Cokie, Sadie and Jesse, three characters who also quickly became favourites alongside Willie. They weren’t in the best situations themselves, but had such generous hearts where Josie was concerned.
Out of the Easy was a novel that I normally wouldn’t have picked up, but I’m so glad that I did, as it is one of the most gorgeously written and memorable reads I have read in a long time. With the great impression Out of the Easy left with me, I think I need to find the courage to read Ruta’s Between Shades of Gray sometime soon too.