By Ruta Sepetys
Philomel Books, 2013
Audience: Older Teens
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.
In the battle of Out of the Easy vs. Between Shades of Gray, Between Shades of Gray wins hands down, no contest. I feel like that story was stronger and the characters were more vivid. Also, I learned a lot in BSOG.
However, Out of the Easy was a very good book on its own.
In America, we have the attitude that if someone doesn't like their circumstances, they should change it. If they don't, their life must be their choice. I think this book does an excellent job of showing that not everyone can help their situation. Josie is a strong young woman who has done nothing wrong, but her mother's choices have basically ruined her life before it had even started. She works as hard as she can to change her fate, but her mother ALWAYS seems to screw it up somehow. I loved her resilience, and I cheered her on the entire book. You know why I admired Josie most? She moved out when she was twelve. TWELVE.
I think that my favorite character in the whole story was Cokie. He completely stole the show. I was so glad Josie had good people like him looking out for her. Patrick was awesome, and I was so glad Josie helped him as much as she could with Charlie. Jesse - he understood Josie's life and was always there for her when she needed it, even if she sometimes seemed to take him for granted. (My only complaint was that their romance could've been hotter.) Willie, while not necessarily a good example, kept an eye out for Josie also. She could've treated Josie much worse, and I'm so glad she didn't.
Overall, the story could have very easily turned into a giant stereotype. It could have been far too predictable, also. The author avoided falling into both traps. I was expecting the mystery to play a larger role in the book, but that wasn't the focus at all, and I was ok with that.
If you love New Orleans, or want to read a good historical fiction novel, or are just looking for something different, pick this one up! Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this galley. I really enjoyed it!