Released: 7th March 2013 (UK)
Publisher: Puffin (UK)
Reason for reading: I like New Orleans (and I needed a book for the BOGOHP offer in Waterstones....)
Out of the Easy is set against the vivid backdrop of 1950s New Orleans. Written by New York Times bestselling author Ruth Sepetys, this novel has something for everyone: love, mystery, murder, blackmail and warmth.
Josie Moraine wants out of The Big Easy - she needs more than New Orleans can offer. Known locally as a brothel prostitute's daughter, she dreams of life at an elite college, far away from here.
But then a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie caught between her ambition and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans is luring Josie deeper in as she searches for the truth, and temptation beckons at every turn.
Out of the Easy was one of those books I heard about, thought looked interesting and promptly dismissed. Because it wasn’t quite interesting enough, because I had too much to read, because of all those other reasons I dismiss books in a split second. But my brain kept coming back and lingering over this one and then when I was looking for a second book for the Buy One Get One Half Price offer in Waterstones I thought “what the heck, I’ll get it” and let me tell you, I am so glad I did.
I think Willy was my second favourite character. It was clear she really cared for Josie, even if she didn't always say it directly. I loved her disdain for Josie's mother and that it was clear that Josie was her first priority. In fact, I loved the support system Josie had around her. Despite her unconventional upbringing and lifestyle, she was surrounded by people that only wanted the best for her, and unfortunately, the one person who didn't care about her, who didn't want what's best for Josie, her mother, the one person who SHOULD have cared, was the one who managed to screw everything up.
The New Orleans setting really lent itself to the story; not only was it very atmospheric but you had the difference between the urine-soaked and bottle-strewn streets of the French Quarter and the opulent neighbourhoods lived in by the rich residents. It was a juxtaposition between where Josie was and where she wanted to be. The rich/poor divide was so clear and so disheartening but Josie never gave up, even when she knew her shoes were scuffed and her blouse was faded and her skirt wasn't the latest fashion. What I also loved about Josie was that she never forsook her principles; she never went back on what she believed in to get where she wanted, even when it seemed like she was heading down that slippery slope.
At one point I felt like it was just not going to get any better. The story was getting worse and worse and it looked as though Josie was going to be stuck in New Orleans, the daughter of a whore, forever. It sounds weird to say this but I liked how it was such a tragedy that led to her second chance. It was such a bittersweet outcome to the story.
TL;DR: Out of the Easy was a heartbreaking yet inspiring read. It's the story of a girl overcoming almost insurmountable odds to get the life she dreams of having. Beautifully written and set against the backdrop of evocative New Orleans this is a story that will stay with you for a long time after you finish.
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