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.”