Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Review: Out of the Easy

Out of the Easy
Published By: Philomel Books
Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Page Count: 348
Source: ARC Borrowed from Amber at Page Turners
Audience: Young Adult - Historical Fiction

Patience has never been my strong suit. I wasn't sure if I could wait until February to read this. I have been anxiously awaiting a copy since I discovered that Ruta Sepetys had written a new novel. I was in awe of Between Shades of Gray and couldn't wait to spend more time with her writing and characters. I was ecstatic when the lovely Amber over at Page Turners offered to lend me a copy of her ARC. As soon as the parcel arrived, I plotted when I could squeeze this one into my reading schedule. My overall verdict is simple: PREORDER THIS NOW. Trust me, if you enjoyed her first book or love historical fiction, you will want this in your hands ASAP. I also will be purchasing my own hardback copy to sit on my favorites shelf.

While YA, this book does deal with some pretty adult concepts so I would highly recommend reading it yourself before recommending it to younger teens. The main character, Josie, is the daughter of a New Orleans prostitute in the 1950's. While I enjoyed learning more about this time period through the eyes of someone experiencing this lifestyle, I can see why some parents might want their younger teens to wait to read this one until they have matured a bit more. Sepetys does not sugar coat the life of someone who has a front row seat to brothels, organized crime, and poverty. 

In spite of all the negative aspects of her life, Josie is a character I strongly admire. She doesn't let her mother's profession and selfishness derail her dreams. She wants out of New Orleans and as far away from her mother's lifestyle as possible. Josie's dreams include attending college at Smith and getting a respectable job. She wants more for her life that The French Quarter can offer her. I loved that no matter what happened, Josie held fast to her dreams. I am not sure that I could have maintained her strength in the face of such odds. She is certainly a heroine worth cheering for - she deserves so much better than her mother.

There are also a number of supporting characters who charmed my heart. Each of them brings their own set of baggage onto the scene, but you can't help loving them. One of the truly beautiful things about Sepetys' writing is she has a magical way of taking the broken and infusing them with hope. It seeps from the pages and refuses to let the you go. I am always in awe of how she makes me feel so many emotions, but in the end always leaves me with a sense of peace. There is also a strong message here for young readers: You can change the path of your life. I think so many times people get bogged down by their parents and what they think they can do. It was refreshing to see a YA character who dreamed big and worked to make her goals come to fruition. I wish more characters (and people) had Josie's gumption. Furthermore, I enjoy how Sepetys gives a voice to those who previously were not always heard throughout history.

This is one of those novels that is a history nerd's dream. It was meticulously researched and accurate. I was transported to 1950's New Orleans. I love having the experience of getting to walk the streets of a different time period. I kept trying to envision how the past New Orleans compares to the modern city. Walking the same streets as a character always gives me a thrill. I wish that I had read this before I took my trip to New Orleans last summer. I will certainly have to make a return trip to track down all the locations mentioned in the book.

I couldn't put this one down. It is the sort of novel that begs to be read. I'm sure I would have stayed up until the wee hours if work had not reared its ugly head. I cannot wait for this one to hit the shelves so others can experience it. I can only hope that Sepetys is hard at work on her next tale. I love her writing, creativity, and the rich historical details.


One Last Gripe: I want more - I wasn't ready to leave Josie.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved so many aspects, but I suppose my favorite thing was learning about the French Quarter during this time period.

First Sentence: My mother's a prostitute.

Favorite Character: Josie, but I had many others I adored! 

Least Favorite Character: Louise, Josie's mother - ugh, that woman is a selfish piece of work



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.



15 comments:

  1. I absolutely loved Between Shades of Gray and I was just thinking the other day that I need to go and find out if this author had written another book. I have already added Out of Easy to my tbr list. Thanks for your review!

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    1. I'm so glad to meet another fan. I loved both books equally - they are so different - but the theme of hope and the intriguing history can be found in each of the novels.

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  2. I added this one to my wishlist yesterday.... so glad you loved it.

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    1. I'd love to hear your thoughts when you have a chance to read it!

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  3. Well, I have not read Between Shades of Grey but I have always wanted to, it's an international bestseller!
    And this book looks like my cup of tea, love the cover and I love historical fiction.
    GREAT review, Andrea
    Adding this to my already full TBR
    Your reader,
    Soma
    http://insomnia-of-books.blogspot.com/

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    1. You should read Between Shades of Gray if you enjoy historical fiction. It's an emotional read, but well worth your time. Sepetys is an amazing writer.

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  4. History nerds dream! Yea! I have this one -- trying to hold off a while...Great review!

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    1. Good luck trying to keep it at bay! It will clamor for your full attention.

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  5. Wow, what a great review. For some reason I had no idea what this story was about. Now I have a much better idea. I read and really loved Between Shades of Gray. My favorite character was the mom and her undying strength. It sounds like Josie is this type of character. Thanks for a great re-introduction to this book and encoragement to pick it up.

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    1. Josie does have many things in common with the mother from Shades of Gray. I never stopped to think about the traits these two characters shared until you mentioned it. Their situations are very different, but they both love deeply and protect those they care about.

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    2. Furthermore, I predict you might also really enjoy Willie. She's such a colorful and complex character.

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  6. I've been anxiously awaiting this ever since I heard it was coming out (I also loved Between Shades of Gray), so I'm really excited to see such a wonderful review! I'm definitely going to have to pre-order this when I get a chance. I can't wait to meet more of Sepetys' characters and see what she does with New Orleans.

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    1. Glad to meet another Sepetys fan. I was interested to check this one out since the setting and historical details vary so drastically from what was in Between Shades of Gray. It was interesting watching Sepetys tackle something completely different. Her attention to historical detail never ceases to amaze me.

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  7. You're right -- Josie is an amazing character who perseveres through everything. Hard to say what I loved more about this book, her or all the New Orleans history.

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  8. Between Shades of Gray is one of my favorite book, it is beautiful and can't wait for Out of the Easy, besides the cover is lovely, amazing review too

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