I was mainly interested in reading Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys because it was set in New Orleans, and I wasn’t really prepared to love it as much as I did. Out of the Easy is the story of Josie Moraine, the 17-year-old daughter of a prostitute. As you might expect, she’s had an unconventional childhood. At the age of 12 she started living on her own in an apartment above Charlie Marlowe’s bookstore, where she works part time alongside Patrick, Charlie’s son and her best friend. Josie’s street smart, but she’s also book smart, and she has dreams of getting out of the Big Easy and attending Smith College in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, things won’t be that easy for Josie (see what I did there?)
Josie is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever read about. I loved how smart and funny and tough she is. From the first time we meet her, at age 7, she takes control of her life as best she can. (She convinces Willie, a New Orleans madam, to let her and her mother stay in their house, by getting up and mixing a martini to show her usefulness.) There’s a lot standing in the way of Josie and her dream of college, but I loved reading about all her attempts to overcome those obstacles. I also loved all the supporting characters who help her out along the way–Josie’s grown up among the underworld of the French Quarter and has a lot of friends and allies with, shall we say, unconventional jobs.
Out of the Easy is a page-turning mystery, a fun romance (with a great subversion of a love triangle), and well-researched historical fiction.
Reviewed by: Teen librarian Renata
Recommended for: Fans of awesome heroines and gritty, realistic stories. (Also for armchair travelers who want to take a literary trip to New Orleans)