Saturday, November 9, 2013

Review: Out of the Easy, by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy

Title: Out of the Easy
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Historical fiction/mystery
Pub. Date: February 12, 2013

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.
4 Stars

It's official. Ruta Sepetys is now one of my favorite authors. First, she crushed my heart with Between Shades of Gray, and now, I find myself enamored with Out of the Easy. Her writing is superb, and her characterization skills are envy-worthy.

You know, I'll just go straight out and say it: this book is not for everyone. It’s a very relaxed novel, while at the same time tackling serious issues, which I think some people will not find very entertaining.

Out of the Easy is one of those books that is profound in one of those quiet, haunting ways. I found myself being pulled into the story, wonderfully absorbed by each deeply developed character, and rooting for Josie. I like that it’s not a happy-go-lucky book, nor does it have a very optimistic ending; it’s very realistic in its portrayals of the hardships Josie is forced to face, especially at that point in time and in that setting.

As many other people have said before me, this book is mainly character-driven. And boy, does Sepetys deliver in that department. She’s the queen of characterization, and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting any of the characters anytime soon.

There isn't much emphasis on the setting, which at first seemed like a very bad decision for me. But I am quite sure that this lack of worldbuilding is deliberate on the author's part; if it’s told through Josie’s POV -who hates the city of New Orleans- I would not expect there to be detailed descriptions of the setting.

My theory is that one of the author’s goals in writing this novel is to describe the darker side of New Orleans (which can really apply to any urban city in general). We’re so used to associating New Orleans with this rich, cultured place, and Sepetys is attempting to show us the harsh reality and the blatant falseness of this.

For those of you that are looking for a unique historical fiction novel, this is the book for you. Like I said, it’s very hushed in its brilliance and not fast paced at all; however, it is a very deep and thoughtful coming-of-age tale.

“Let me tell you something 'bout these rich Uptown folk," said Cokie. "They got everything that money can buy, their bank accounts are fat, but they ain't happy. They ain't ever gone be happy. You know why? They soul broke. And money can't fix that, no sir.”


  1. I should really read this. I love books that portray the harsh realities--they're some of my favorites--and I think I would definitely enjoy reading this one.

    Great review. :)

  2. Ah yes, I'm SO glad you loved this Summer! I definitely agree it's character-driven; I cared so much for Josie, I actually resorted to tears halfway through the book just because I felt so damn terrible for her.

    I think your point about the lack of setting description is interesting... I always thought it was because Sepetys' New Orleans was made up of the people... as in, the huge array of characters and the fascinating cast actually made the setting (if that makes sense).

    I definitely need to re-read this soon. Ruta Sepetys actually sent me a signed card which is inside my copy. :D

    PS. Sorry for not commenting in awhile, I've had a lot of school stuff and bleurgh! :'(

  3. Wonderful review! I love stories like this and I love Between Shades of Gray. Hopefully this book captures my attention like it captured yours. Darker side of town stories are always enthralling and I love New Orleans! One of the funnest places to be!