Author: Ruta Sepetys
Provided Synopsis: 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.
Review: Josie Moraine’s mother is a prostitute, and the woman who calls herself a “fairy godmother” is the protector of whores. Thus the scene is set for Out of the Easy, a time in which New Orleans is a city full of secrets, allure, scandal, and seduction.
It all begins when a tourist walks into the bookshop where Josie works; he is rich, educated, and shows her the respect she has craved her entire life. Suddenly, Josie is inspired by the thought that she can get into college, and becomes enamored with the idea of escaping New Orleans to attend Smith. But things from Josie’s past, and her present, will continue to try to keep her rooted to the spot, the most significant being her lying and stealing mother and the crimes the woman wanders into. Hope and belief will have to come from those around Josie if she is to achieve more than what she had ever dreamed.
New Orleans, of course, is a magical setting, and I will forever be drawn to any book that has its characters walk its famed streets. My favorite component of this book, however, was the characters. Each of them is richly painted to be full of personality. I could imagine them as they spoke, with my mind typically drawling out the Southern accents. The hope and belief of Cokie was contagious, the kindness of Sweety was palpable, the brashness of Willie could be heard, and the pain of Josie captured me to experience the depths of her disappointment (seriously, I have never been so disappointed for a character before). I would suggest this book for the characters, many of whom I would love to sit around and talk to, or simply to revisit in another story some day.
But only if the writing could be different, since that was my largest qualm with this book. The syntax often left me disconnected from the words and had me stumble through the story. The book would have been much more enjoyable could I alter that.