Out of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Philomel, an imprint of Penguin
Review copy received at SIBA
Josie Moraine is an ordinary girl growing up in New Orleans in the 1950’s. Except that she’s anything but ordinary – her mother is a prostitute, she lives alone in an apartment at the bookshop where she works (has since she’s twelve, and she’s seventeen now), and even though she comes from sordid roots, Josie has desperate dreams of getting out of the Quarter and going to college at Smith. Josie concocts a plan to get the letter of recommendation she needs to get into college, but just as things begin to fall into place for her, the demons of her mother’s choices come back to haunt her and she becomes trapped in an impossible situation.
If you read Sepetys’ haunting, morbidly beautiful novel Between Shades of Gray, please understand that Out of The Easy is about as different from her first novel as possible. I say that because it’s important to understand that Sepetys is truly talented – she can write about the most opposite of topics and pull each book off incredibly successfully. Out of The Easy is no Between Shades of Gray, but it’s a beautiful novel in its own right, one that I really loved.
I completely fell in love with Josie within the first ten pages of this novel. She reminded me so much of myself – bookish, from not the best of backgrounds, determined to make something of her life – although I’m not nearly as tough as she is! So maybe she reminded me of a better version of myself. But I admired her strength, her tenacity, her determination to create a better life for herself than the one that was expected of her. I loved the fact that life kept throwing her curve balls, and while she was tempted to stray from her planned course of action, she never really fell victim to her circumstances. Instead, she kept her head held high and forged ahead, choosing to do the right thing rather than the easy thing every single time.
Out of The Easy is action-packed but in a quieter way, if that makes sense. There’s a lot that happens over the course of the novel, but it’s not exactly fast-paced. It’s more like spaced out over the course of the book evenly, sort of how real life is (if your real life consists of your mom being a prostitute accused of murder, that is). The pace of the novel kept me turning pages compulsively, but not so anxiously that I missed anything.
I truly enjoyed Out of The Easy and highly recommend it. Sepetys is just as good as I hoped she would be in her second novel, and this book has so many elements within it for a reader to love. Highly recommended!