Read: March 6-7, 2013
Published: February 12, 2013 by Philomel Books
Source: Library then purchase
Category: Historical Fiction, YA
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. (From Goodreads)
Josie Moraine is the seventeen year old daughter of a prostitute. All her life she's felt judged, and she wants out of New Orleans and away from the stigma that surrounds her life. Josie longs to go to college and make something of herself, so she saves every cent she earns and dreams of a future where she escapes from the underbelly of the French Quarter. Where she is know by her own merits and not by her mothers talents. But life rarely goes as planned, and though it often brings heartbreak, it can also be filled with unexpected beauty and love.
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, especially when it is well-researched, well-written and a compelling story. Out of the Easy is all those things. I was completely immersed in Josie's search for identity and love, all the while I felt like I was learning about what it was like to live in New Orleans in 1950. From the dynamic cast of characters, including the way they spoke and wore their hair, to the businesses they visited and secrets they hid, Ruta Sepetys brings the the colorful Quarter to life in vivid detail.
The copy of Out of the Easy that I read (before I bought my own and got it signed) was from the library, and it had the word "Mystery" stickered to its spine. While this book does involve an unsolved crime, it's not the focus of the story. I think it it is a disservice to this book to think of it that way (plus you might wind up disappointed). Out of the Easy is really a coming of age story about a girl who thinks she's alone in the world, because she is judged for who she is, and because she sees "bad" people all around her. But through the course of the story, this girl begins to see how many people do care for her, and that she's not alone after all.
Out of the Easy is a book about people and all their complicatedness, and about finding the individuals in the world who have your back and learning to trust them. But Josie learns some tough lessons along the way. Just because you're related to someone, doesn't mean you should trust them. Just because you're rich doesn't mean you have class, and just because you're poor doesn't mean you don't. This book is filled with a lively cast of characters, many I loved, several I loathed, and almost none were what I expected. The best part is discovering them for yourself, so I'm not going to say anything more specific about them.
Out of the Easy has a light sweet romance in it that builds gradually throughout the book. Although there is a hint of a love triangle, it was clear to me from the beginning who Josie's choice would be. In fact, I would hesitate to call this a love triangle at all, but more of an interest triangle. The love story is the realistic kind, and Josie's choice grows naturally out of her development in the story.
I didn't know how much I'd been missing the historical fiction genre recently until I picked up Out of the Easy. Not only is Josie's story a fresh and engaging coming of age tale, the book feels authentic. It is also readable and accessible, which I think people sometimes fear with this genre. What better way to get to know a specific time and place, than through a story? But it's not only that. While reading about Josie's struggles in 1950s New Orleans, you just might learn something about your own life. Ruta Sepetys has a gift for bringing the past to life, and I hope she keeps writing about it far into the future.
Love Triangle Factor: Mild
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone
Last week I had the opportunity to meet Ruta Sepetys and learn about her research and inspiration for Out of the Easy. Read a recap of the discussion with pictures and more, HERE.
I've been waiting on this since I saw the cover, I love it, and I am so happy each time I read a positive review!ReplyDelete
I love the term interest triangle, those I do not mind!
I hope you're able to read this one soon! It is so fantastic. And yes, a realistic triangle that is not annoying. So often they are overly dramatic and done for effect. Ugh. I won't even go into that. But this book is great all around.Delete
Awesome review! I am so happy that this book resonated with you as well, Lauren! I especially love this line form your review:ReplyDelete
"But Josie learns some tough lessons along the way. Just because you're related to someone, doesn't mean you should trust them. Just because you're rich doesn't mean you have class, and just because you're poor doesn't mean you don't."
Yep, you nailed it. I adored the characters in this book (even the despicable ones) because they were so REAL. Sepetys has a gift for crafting amazingly true-to-life characters.
And yes to more historical fiction getting it's due! Love this genre:)
SUCH GREAT CHARACTERS! They ARE real and surprising which is always a fantastic find. I am so thankful that this book opened me up to this genre again. I hope there are more good/authentic YA historical fiction books with great characters coming out. Sepetys better hurry up and write another one! Yours is the first review I saw of this one, so thanks for telling me about it!Delete
I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Lauren! It's such an amazing addition to the historical fiction genre and the characters truly made this one for me. Josie is so inspiring, the romance utterly believable, and the lessons she learns are tough, which make them all the more poignant. Wonderful review as always, dear!(:ReplyDelete
I didn't think I'd see you around here this week. Thanks for stopping by! I've been reading books with heroines that are hard to like or relate to, but you're right, Josie is relatable and inspiring. I was rooting for her the whole time. And SWOON romance despite its subtlety. Love what you said about the lessons, but very true - and very important life lessons for everyone.Delete
I'm glad you enjoyed this too! I loved visiting 1950's New Orleans and her life was fascinating!ReplyDelete
I didn't know much about this time period or setting, so it was such a treat to discover it. And from what the author said, it's very accurate. Crazy times! I agree, great book.Delete
I haven't tried much historical fiction, but this one sounds lovely. I've heard so many amazing things about, and I'm glad you loved this one, Lauren! :) I love when characters develop, as characters are my favorite part of a story. I think I'll have to check this one out soon! Beautiful review, Lauren!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Sophia! This is definitely a good place to start with historical fiction. The story is very readable and relatable, despite the unique setting and past time period. If you like well written characters, this is the book for you! So many great ones in here.Delete
Ooh yay, I'm so glad you liked it! I've been wanting to read this one for a while. It's bad that they labeled it mystery, since it wasn't the focal point, but everything in the story sounds wonderful. The characters, the romance, the hint of mystery, the historical setting...love! Great review :)ReplyDelete
I know. I'm not sure how/why the library labels some books the way they do. I wonder if the librarian who did it actually read the book. It's like when the book jacket copy gives the wrong impression of what's in the story (the Night Circus did that, IMO), and it can change how you perceive the book. Anyway, this is a wonderful book. I hope you're able to read it and that you love it too.Delete
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
Whoops, trying that comment again. I really loved Between Shades of Gray and I love historical fiction, so I'm excited to read this!ReplyDelete
Jen @ YA Romantics
I think you'll love this book, Jen.Delete
Beautiful review! I especially love this: "Ruta Sepetys has a gift for bringing the past to life, and I hope she keeps writing about it far into the future." I very much agree! :-)ReplyDelete
I was reading this book and absolutely loving Josie, and I had to put it aside for a few days for work craziness, but I can't wait to dive in again this weekend. I totally feel you on the "interest triangle." I've seen a few of those, and they just don't irk me the way traditional LT's with selfish centers do.
Thanks so much, Lauren (also we share a name. There are a lot of us out there). I feel the same about interest triangles, I totally understand the concept of feeling out the options and trying to figure out who you like etc. That totally makes sense, but when authors go the "I love them both!" "I can't stop making out with both of them!" route, I go nuts. I hope you love this one when you're able to pick it up again.Delete
Lovely review, Lauren, I'm so glad that you ended up enjoying this one so much--I know I sort of fell in love with it. The romance was wonderful, and I love that she subtly dealt with homosexuality. I loved the setting, and the play on morality in this one--you're right, it's really not much of a mystery, but it's the perfect sort of historical fiction.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Heidi. YES to all of this! Such a great book with amazing characters, and an engaging, well-written historical fiction. I don't think they are as widely read in YA. But I hope this author makes the genre more popular.Delete
I love well-done historical fiction as well. I currently have Sepetys' Between Shades of Gray on my nightstand pile and hope I can get to it within the next few weeks. Although fantasy will always be my go-to genre of choice, historical fiction can be magical to read as well, simply because the author is drawing on real life inspiration and examples. I'll admit that I'm not super interested in 1950s New Orleans, but I can see myself getting totally sucked into the story of Between Shades of Gray and loving it so much that I just need to read Out of the Easy. I'm sure I'll enjoy it, based on yours and so many other positive reviews. I just need to be given a little push to get started. :)ReplyDelete
Also, totally awesome that you got to meet Sepetys! It looks like it was a great event!
The event was awesome! She was so personable and moving. We all could have listened to her speak for hours.Delete
I haven't worked my way to Between Shades of Gray yet, but EVERYONE says it's fantastic. I hope you do end up reading and loving this one as well, even without the time period, the characters are all interesting, well-written and relatable.
This book had me at New Orleans. I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction, but this decade and setting has so much I love. Can't wait to give it a read someday. :)ReplyDelete
I think this is an extremely readable historical fiction book, and a good place to start if you're not into the genre. I also think that you will definitely find that the colorful cast of characters are relatable, and that they'll pull you right into their world. What I love about this story is that like the author, this book is so very approachable.Delete
I'm so glad to hear that you really enjoyed this book! I, too, love historical fiction and get disappointed when it seems either not well-researched or there's so much research/fact that the book feels less engaging. It sounds like this is the perfect combination of the two, and I'm really excited about picking this one up. I loved Ruta's first book, and I'm excited to hear that this one also brings the past to life in such a great way.ReplyDelete
Great, great review. I think I'm almost beyond this book's release enough now that I'm ready to tackle it :)ReplyDelete
This makes me really happy because I know that so many of you guys that I adore so much have REALLY loved this one. If neither of my libraries gets this one soon, I'm going to request that one of them purchase it. Yep!
Also, this makes me want to read it MORE --> "Out of the Easy is really a coming of age story about a girl who thinks she's alone in the world, because she is judged for who she is, and because she sees "bad" people all around her. But through the course of the story, this girl begins to see how many people do care for her, and that she's not alone after all."