Title: Out of the Easy
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Historical, young adult
Publisher: Philomel Books (Penguin Random House)
Pushlishing Date: 2013
My rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆
Well, she’s done it again. And by that, I mean, she’s done it before. Because she wrote this before she wrote Salt to the Sea. But I read that before I read this book.
Shall we start again?
This book is set in 1950s New Orleans, and follows the daughter of a prostitute. Yep, that’s all I need to pick up a book! The main character, Josie, lives above the bookshop she works in, and spends her mornings cleaning up the local brother where her mother works, reporting any found items to the madam, Willie. Josie longs to get away from this town where everyone knows her as the daughter of a prostitute, and make something of herself. She is inspired to apply for college in another state after a chat with a gentleman in her bookshop – who, the next morning, is found dead.
The story really kicks off from there, as Josie has a renewed determination to get out, while trying to find out what happened to this man, meeting interesting new people, and juggling her two jobs, her college application, and a trying relationship with her awful mother.
The first thing to say about this book is that it has such amazing characters. There are so many, but they’re easy to keep track of, and they all have such vivid, distinct personalities. Willie has got to be my favourite, she’s one of the best characters I’ve read all year. Ruta Sepetys manages to create so many believable and fully developed characters that are all so fun to read about. Her mother is a great character too – such a piece of work. She’s one you’ll love to hate. Josie herself was a great female lead – independent, intelligent, super hardworking, determined, and so likable.
The setting of 1950s New Orleans was set so well, the book gave a real sense of what it was like to live there. Everyone knows everyone else’s business, and it seems like Josie can’t turn a corner without bumping into someone or other. The ties between people give it a real small-town feel, but the description of the bustling streets show that it’s growing fast.
So, characters? Yep. Setting? Yep. Plot? Loved it! What made this plot so great for me was that it was so unpredictable. There were times where I thought I knew what was going to happen next, but I never managed to get it right. Most of the time I had no clue where it was going, and I loved that. There’s a really nice edge of mystery to this story as she tries to figure out how this man ended up dead, but it by no means takes over the story. The story is more like a lot of different sub-plots, all of which Josie manages to be involved in. It’s never confusing, but there’s always something going on which meant I devoured this book.
Through the entire book, I had literally one negative thing to say about it- and it’s really nit picky. There’s a prologue, involving seven year old Josie, which ends with ‘that was ten years ago.’ I felt it was a little sloppy, as the next chapter could easily have just said ‘ten years later.’ Having a fist person narrator say ‘that was ten years ago’ makes it sound as if they are directly addressing the reader and telling them a story, which is not the overall narrative style of the book. But you know what? It bugged me for a couple of pages, and then I completely got over it and fell in love with the book.
Amazing, five stars.
Did I mention that she LIVES AND WORKS IN a bookshop?