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.
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.
I read Salt to the Sea (review here) by the same author at the end of March and it ruined me. I was in a book slump for most of April because of it. When I saw Out of the Easy on Book Outlet for just a few dollars, I immediately snatched it up and dove in.
I’ve really been loving historical fiction lately, but it seems like all that I’ve been reading are just down right heartbreaking. I enjoyed that this was a step away from heart wrenching, but still followed in the same pattern of historical fiction with a head-strong female main character.
Josie hasn’t lived a very normal life. Her mother is a prostitute in New Orleans and a fairly well known one at that. Josie’s reputation around the Quarter isn’t the greatest because of it and she finds comfort in the local bookstore where she works and also lives. When someone is mysteriously murdered, Josie finds herself swept away in the case and from there, she really starts to find herself.
I enjoyed Josie as a main character. She was strong and fairly independent, but obviously had a few weaknesses as well. I really admired her determination to make something better of herself. It was really admirable to see someone who has been around a brothel most of her life to know what is and isn’t okay — and she knew that following in her mother’s footsteps was definitely not okay.
Though obviously some of Willie’s actions were questionable, ahem being a madam at a brothel, she was fierce and strong as hell. Willie was like a grandmother figure to Josie, seeing as how Josie’s real mom was a real piece of shit. She literally did everything for Josie because she knew that she deserved better. I grew very attached to Willie towards the end of the novel.
There were also a spew of side characters that made the story just amazing. Patrick, Josie’s best friend and son of the owner of the bookstore she works at. Jesse, the brooding motorcycle guy who pines for Josie’s heart. Cokie, Willie’s right-hand man who’s personality will just make you feel insanely happy.
There were some parts that just fell a little flat for me. I read a review on Good Reads that just really explained what I felt. There just wasn’t enough. There was a mini-love triangle, if you could even call it that, but I just felt like it was so random. K. also mentioned this in her review, about how it felt odd because we didn’t get much background information about either guys to really understand Josie’s relationship with them — especially Jesse. He just kind of kept showing up out of the blue.
Overall, the writing was to die for, but what do you expect from a Ruta Sepetys novel? She immediately has you sucked into the story and you really feel like you’re in 1950’s New Orleans. She is so descriptive and entertaining to read. Yes, there were some parts left flat for me, but honestly.. Ruta is still queen for me. I’ll be picking up Between Shades of Grey when I’m in the moved to have my heart ripped out of my chest.