Out of the Easy – Ruta Sepetys
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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 to 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.
An outstanding story imagined by Ruta Sepetys, who has an incredible gift for writing. She does a fantastic job of writing dialogue, descriptions, and interior monologue. They blend together perfectly to make a very readable, deep, and touching book.
All of the characters Ruta created are great! They all have their own personalities, voices, and interests. I especially enjoyed Willie and Patrick. Oh and Jesse was pretty swoon-worthy 🙂 Willie is so very layered and incredible. She is so witty and a talented businesswoman who takes no shit. She sees potential in Jo – and instead of turning Jo away or becoming annoyed with her because she was a child in a brothel, she took her in and fostered her smarts and strengths and tried to sever her ties to her mother. It’s incredibly inspirational and just… yeah… thank god for Willie! She knows her shit and she knows people and go her! Patrick is also a very deep and interesting character. He has an incredibly kind heart and his affection for Jo is just too cute. He isn’t your conventional guy – he’s bookish without being moody or mysterious, he’s smart but also charming, and puts his family first but has a great sense of humor and youth. I especially love that he wanted to be in love with Jo because he didn’t want to hurt her and recognized how right they could be, but didn’t force a relationship on himself. He’s true to himself. And while he has his understandable angry times, his heart stays kind and thoughtful throughout the story. The way he and his father Charlie take Jo in just… gah! Love it! And then there’s Jesse. Ohhh Jesse. He’s different from Patrick, but no less sweet. He’s sexy and adventurous and has a tough past like Jo, which is why they fit so easily. His ears and shoulder are always available to Jo. And if he knows a person is good, he doesn’t have a bad thing to say about them, no matter what kind of a shitty situation they’re in.
Not only do I love these three characters individually, I also love their relationship with Jo. Willie had such a wonderful way of going from praising Jo and giving her advise & encouragement, to telling her to wipe her tears or go clean something. It was so funny and great! And you can really tell how influenced by Willie Jo was. I hate her mother, Louise. But I think you’re supposed to hate her… so a job well done by Ruta! Louise is despicable and hated by everyone. She’s dumb and selfish and I wish Jo could have been raised with a better mother. But then again I suppose her story wouldn’t have been the same, and she wouldn’t have grown up so wise and book smart and incredibly strong. Patrick’s relationship with Jo is great too! I hope they continued their relationship after the book in some way because the way they got along made my heart swell and was a pleasure to read. Both he and Jesse adored Jo even with knowing her whole dirty and tough past and I think that’s awesome! Because even with the odds stacked against her, Jo still manages to win the hearts of two upstanding and uber-swoon-worthy gentlemen. You go girl! I’m glad she had at least one good aspect of her life, even though the rest of it was shitty.
Also let’s not forget the rest of the awesome secondary characters: Coke, Sadie, Sweetie, Dora, Charlotte, and Charlie. All are outstanding, and that is an impressive feat of Ruta’s; to be able to write so many incredible and different and well-rounded characters!
Jo’s story was so great to read about. It’s not really about any one thing. It’s a coming-of-age story, it’s a bit of a thriller, it’s a historical novel, it’s got some romance, it’s about family… yeah it’s just a solid story! I really sympathized with Jo and rooted for her. I cared so much about her, which doesn’t happen in every book I read. Her voice came out of the page so well, I just felt like I knew her inside and out and she was “telling her story” in a compelling way.
Dialogue was spot on. It wasn’t too fast or slow, there wasn’t so much of it that it read like only dialogue, (ugh Hemingway), and there was enough of it to keep me turning the pages. I would even talk back to the characters sometimes! They were very obviously angry or sad or witty or hurt, and that made easier to love them. The descriptions were colorful enough to really paint a vivid picture while reading, but not overly descriptive to make it boring. Jo’s interior monologue was insightful and interesting. Like I said before, I really cared about Jo and felt like I knew her because of the way her thoughts were written.
Side note: It was very cool to read a book set in New Orleans! It was a great place to tell a story, and I will try to look out for more books that take place there!
Well I think I’ve expressed all of my love for this book 🙂 There were no bad aspects to it in my opinion. It was super readable and very well done. I urge you all to pick up this flawless piece of literature!! <3