Saturday, June 22, 2013

Novel Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Genre: YA Historical with Romance
Publisher: Penguin (Philomel)
Publish Date: February 12th, 2013
Spoilers?: No/Very Minor.

Goodreads 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 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.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

Something Specific:

  • "'Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else [...] these pages must show.'" (ARC) (It's a quote from David Copperfield, apparently, [I've never read it,] that has significance to this book.)
  • "I leapt eagerly into books. The characters' lives were so much more interesting than the lonely heartbeat of my own." (ARC) YES.
  • "Willie said normal was boring and that I should be grateful that I had a touch of spice. She said no one cared about boring people, and when they died, they were forgotten, like something that slips behind the dresser. Sometimes I wanted to slip behind the dresser. Being normal sounded perfectly wonderful." (ARC)
  • "'Let me tell you something 'bout those rich Uptown folk,' said Cokie. 'They got everything that money can buy, their bank accounts are fat, but they ain't happy. They ain't ever gone be happy. You know why? They soul broke. And money can't fix that, no sir.'" (ARC)
  • "'A dame that knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up.'" (ARC) I like that, and while it might sound a bit bad, it also worked very well for the situation and characters, in how it's phrased.

The Cover:

I really like the cover of this book. It's pretty, it makes sense for the book, and it's not embarrassing. The colors work, it has a historical feel, and the background also looks similar to what I imagine a room in the brothel looks like. I just overall really like this cover.


I ended up getting this book somewhat by chance—I had my pick of several, none were really calling to me, but I had heard a lot of good things about this book, as well as Sepetys’ first book, and decided to get it. I thought it was going to be slow, with long paragraphs and little dialogue, but that maybe it would be beautiful instead of droning—plus I’m not usually a fan of historical novels, so that adds to the wariness. I was wrong, though, and pleasantly so.
Set in the 1950’s, Out of the Easy stars Josie, seventeen years old, who wants to get away from the place that she’s stuck in. She lives on her own above the bookstore where she works, because her mother, a prostitute, doesn’t want her around. She works for the Madame of the whore house, Willie, who’s tough but cares for her in her own way. And then the dangerous guy that her mother loves comes back to town, and this nice older guy she met gets murdered, and Josie starts getting caught up in all these lies that she doesn’t know how to handle.
The writing, first. I thought that it would be long and take more time, but it was actually a really easy, rather quick read. It wasn’t heavy in paragraphs, as there was a good balance of dialogue. There were a lot of intriguing thoughts, a lot of pretty insights, that I liked, too.
I like Josie. She’s a bit lost, starts lying when maybe she shouldn’t, gets accidentally caught up in this mess that she doesn’t know how to deal with. But she wasn’t stupid, and she was very active, and she was trying to do the best that she could, she was doing the best that she believed she could be doing.
The plot was really good; Josie’s relationship with her mother was done frustratingly well, and her mother and the dangerous man she loved were just generally despicable and easily disliked. That plot, including the dead man, the debt, and all of the lies was very interesting, and easy to get caught up in. Her relationship with Willie was nice and needed. Just Willie’s character and the other prostitutes were well rounded and believable, as were all of the other characters.
The romance was a rather small plot, but it was there, and for a lot of the book, I was left wondering. There were two guys, and while I was pretty sure I knew which one I wanted (although I wasn’t positive), I didn’t know what was going to happen with the other one. (Actually, now that I think about it, it’s similar to You Look Different in Real Life in that way.) I was very happy with how the romance turned out in the end, too.
The whole ending, actually, was very satisfying.
I was very happy with how the book turned out, and with how much I enjoyed it. It wasn’t light, but it was a pretty easy read, kept my interest easily, and went by much faster than I thought it would. And while I’ve heard a lot of good things about Sepetys’ first book, Between Shades of Gray, now I know that I want to pick it up when I get the chance, as well as anything else that Sepetys releases in the future.

 A review copy was provided by Cuddlebuggery's Little Blogger, Big Ambitions project and Stephanie Sinclair, of Cuddlebuggery. Thank you so, so much!

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