I started and finished reading Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys yesterday.
Obviously I knew that I was going to love this story. It takes place during the 1950’s (love me some nostalgia), in what is considered the underbelly of New Orleans, and features a badass heroine, Josie. Let me start with a brief synopsis:
Josie Moraine (FANTASTIC NAME) is the daughter of a prostitute, and relocated to The French Quarter part of New Orleans with her mother at the age of seven, so that her mother could work (again) for Willie, the well-respected Madam in the city. It’s abundantly clear that Josie’s mother doesn’t care for her daughter in the slightest, and is, quite frankly, a gold-digging, social-climbing sorry excuse for a mother. I mean, really. It would be forgivable if this woman was in this profession because she was in desperate need to provide for her child (a la Fantine), but this is hardly the case. Anyway, flash-forward ten years, and Josie has matured into a intelligent and strong woman who desperately wants to go to Smith College in Northampton, MA. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse when a man whom Josie sold a book to winds up murdered. Obviously Josie’s mother and her really gross bf are involved because they are the worst. The book follows Josie’s struggle to get out of the Easy and the murder investigation.
Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I read this book in about seven hours. It. Was. THAT good. It’s the cast of characters created by Ruta Sepetys that draw me in and make me attached to the story. Honestly, the people in and around Willie’s house/business are some of the best characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Willie is excellent as the Madam; I respected her as much as Josie did, and then felt just as exasperated and conflicted when Josie was searching for an out and Willie told her no. The workers in the house (the “nieces”) were just as excellent despite the fact that they were secondary characters. I loved Sweety and Sadie and how much they looked out for Josie. They were part mother-part sister to her without Sepetys ever needing to explicitly state it.
There are no words for Cokie.
Yes there are.
Sweet, loyal, protective, trusting. Everything you could ever want in a father. It’s funny how Josie spent most of her life pretending various men were her father when she had the best one in Cokie.
This book left me desperate for more of New Orleans, the French Quarter, Josie and her family. Her descriptions of every situation, setting and character are so vivid that I felt as if I was walking down the streets of New Orleans rather than sitting on my couch with a mug of tea in my hand.
Read Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. Read EVERYTHING by Ruta Sepetys. I’m desperate for more.