August 1st, 2013

Out of the Easy

by Ruta Sepetys

Ana's Rating

Readers Rating

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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.


I fear that I’ll never be able to write a proper review for Out of the Easy because I’ve waited so long after reading it. All that remains, really, is a vague sense of awesomeness and just a liking in general. Nevertheless, I shall try to do it justice.

New Orleans, 1950s, and brothel are not words I ever expected to read in the same sentence, let alone a sentence that I actually like. Fortunately, Ruta Sepetys is here to continue expanding the bounds of my wildest imagination in cases of such absurd phraseology. What would I have done without her?

Indeed, combining the typical with the avant-garde seems to be Sepetys’s talent. Who else could have dreamed up a two-in-one murder mystery and philosophical pièce de résistance? Out of the Easy delves into complex issues all while staying true to the lightweight spirit of evading mobsters and solving mysteries.

Speaking of mobsters, I hope that Sepetys brings their characters to three-dimensional life in the novel’s sequel as she did for prostitutes in this one. My kudos go out to her for creating strong, brave and admirable women who defy the stereotypical caricatures of prostitutes. Perspective is everything, and Sepetys invites her readers to adopt a deeper one. For Willie Woodley does run a respectable business, albeit being exceptionally racy. Most importantly, her business is a (somewhat dysfunctional) family, whose antics I thoroughly enjoyed. In fact, Willie was quite probably my favourite character.

That’s not to say, however, that Josie isn’t my kind of heroine. Is she misguidedly and excessively focused on outward appearances? Yes. Is she slightly hypocritical in every way of the word? Absolutely. Does she keep too many secrets and lie through her teeth? But of course. Is her forehead quite large and her stylistic decisions questionable? Lamentably. Nonetheless, she knows how to kick ass and always comes through when it matters most. Furthermore, she isn’t afraid to pull a gun on men whose hands become too liberal: quality that everyone can assuredly appreciate.

Regrettably, these are the only sources of praise that I can dredge up from my faulty memory. Recommended for those who enjoy historicals, mobsters, and protagonists with abnormally large foreheads. 4.4/5 stars.


I’ll keep you posted,

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