Title: Out of the Easy
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Borrowed from: Ann Arbor District Library
Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars*
Review: Jo, Josie or Josephine (depending on who you ask) just finished high school and needs to plan for her future. Her mother has a disreputable job** in an equally disreputable part of 1950’s New Orleans, her father is nowhere, the mob is at her doorstep looking for money and just when she can see the life she dreams of coming to fruition murder, theft and small lies and truths twist the story round and round. This beautiful coming of age story shares the trials and tribulations as Josie works to become anything but her mother (avoiding bad reputations and less than savory clients) while working in a bookstore with her dream of college just out of reach. Using her smarts and wit, Josie is able to start on her way out of New Orleans and although it doesn’t seem like it, she has a lot of people fighting in her corner to be something better.
Recommended for ages 14 – 18, historical fiction lovers and anyone intrigued by New Orleans.
Of note: This is the authors’ second novel. Her first was “Between Shades of Gray” which is also a beautifully, haunting work of historical fiction set in Russia during WWII. I highly recommend either book for history lovers in your life.
*Truthfully, 4.5 Stars if Goodreads had half star ratings. Sepetys is an author that can really take you places and her imagination comes across each and every page.
Spoilers may be found in the following discussion.
**For those interested: the disreputable job is working for a brothel. Although Josie only cleans the house every morning, many scenes are set inside and within the brothel house and many characters frequent the house or work there. Josie is also propositioned and although she ultimately decides it isn’t worth it, these decisions are not often ones openly discussed. If this is a concern it may be worth it to read this novel with your children or before your child reads it so as a family you can openly discuss issues it raises. I definitely wouldn’t skip this one!
Now for the real discussion: I love historical fiction and I am so excited that I am finding good historical fiction written for teens but enticing to adults. New Orleans has a certain mystery surrounding it (and has always been a place on my MUST travel to list) so seeing it via a teenage girl in 1950’s who is just trying to get out is an interesting perspective.