Book Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Book Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Shelved: Young adult fiction (historical, mystery)
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy: The Book Depository
More: Goodreads

Out of the Easy, by the author of one of my favourite books, Between Shades of Gray, was easily one of my most anticipated novels of this year. But it couldn’t be more different from Between Shades of Gray, which just goes to show that Ruta Sepetys is an author to watch. Out of the Easy starts with: ‘My mother’s a prostitute. Not the filthy, streetwalking kind. She’s actually quite pretty, fairly well spoken, and has lovely clothes. But she sleeps with men for money or gifts, and according to the dictionary, that makes her a prostitute.’ – so not exactly a paragraph I see often in young adult literature. Out of the Easy, marvellously honest, does not shy away from the gritty New Orleans’ French Quarter in the 1950s.

Josie Moraine is a seventeen-year-old part-time bookseller and cleaner at the local brothel, where her erratic mother works. Josie wants nothing more than to get out of New Orleans and attend the elite Smith College in far away Massachusetts, where nobody will know that she’s the daughter of a prostitute. But on New Year’s Eve, a wealthy visitor to New Orleans, who had entered her bookshop only the day before, is found dead. Josie’s ambition takes a knock when she’s determined to find out the truth: how did a well-educated, healthy man suddenly die?

New Orleans, as it turns out, is one of the most grandiose locations for stories. It’s always a little bit more colourful, vivid, and rich than anywhere else, as in Cate Tiernan’s Balefire trilogy. As Ruta Sepetys says, ‘New Orleans is unlike any city in America. Its cultural diversity is woven into the food, the music, the architecture, even the local superstitions. It’s a sensory experience on all levels and there’s a story lurking around every corner.’ Yet Out of the Easy does not paint 1950s New Orleans as a perfectly quaint city; the French Quarter is dangerous to those who do not keep out of the way.

Out of the Easy is also a wonderful novel for book lovers. It has an excellent selection of bookish quotations that I’ll be sharing on Tumblr, such as ‘Shelves without books were lonely and just plain wrong‘. Josie lives and works in a bookshop, a childish dream that a lot of us bookish folk had. Josie values literary knowledge, education, and literacy, and we see glimpses of how passionate she is about this throughout the book, as well as from some of the secondary characters.

Out of the Easy is a fantastic novel and one of the best books I have read this year. I’d have liked it to explore the secondary characters a little more, such as Jesse Thierry, the enigmatic young boy who refers to Josie as ‘Motor City’; Patrick Marlow, Josie’s longtime friend whose father owns the bookshop where they both work; and feisty businesswoman Willie (who, yes, is a little like Wilhelmina from Ugly Betty). Out of the Easy is certainly a different novel and it shows that young adult literature does not have to be ‘light’. Read it and you’ll be transported to a completely different time, where the uncomfortable is not held back.

Published: 12th February 2013 (US) 7th March 2013 (UK)
Publisher: Philomel, Penguin Books (US) Puffin, Penguin Books (UK)
Pages: 352
Source: Thank you Puffin for providing this book to review!
If you liked: Balefire & Between Shades of Gray

20 thoughts on “Book Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

  1. I’ve been meaning to read something by this author for ages now but just haven’t gotten around to it so I’m glad to see that you’re very fond of her books. This one sounds really interesting and I love books that feature characters that like reading/have something to do with books, so if I do read this then I’ll be sure to look out for the quotes.
    Lovely review! 🙂

  2. I’ve been eyeing up this one for a while, especially after her last novel, but your review just clinched it – bookish quotes and grandiose locations? I’m THERE. Thank you!

    • That’s so lovely to hear – I really do hope you enjoy it!

      • Sure I will – by the way, I hope you don;t mind but I blogged about your London Book Shop tour. Meant to message you but the dodo memory struck again – do you mind, or would you prefer me to take down that post?

        • Oh no, that’s wonderful – thank you. I don’t mind at all. I hate that I’ve only been to three bookshops! Hopefully now the weather’s a lot better it’ll spur me on to go to more. I have my friend ‘booked in’ to go to another 2-3 next month though 🙂

  3. I heard so many good things about ‘Between Shades of Gray’ last year. And I had forgotten all about it. But hearing that the author has another great novel out has definitely peaked my interest again. I think I’ll check out shades of gray first and then this one. Great review!

  4. This sounds so intriguing. I can picture it in my head already and I’ve only read the blurb!

  5. Putting it in my mental list. I’ve been feeling in the mood to read some brainer books than my recent fare and this seems like it could fill that whim!

  6. This definitely does sound different – that opening paragraph is lovely in a unique way! I also enjoyed Between Shades of Gray, and so many people have lauded this book I feel obligated to check it out. Great review. (:

  7. […] Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys I read this book most recently, but it deserves a place here. On New Year’s Eve, a wealthy visitor to New Orleans, who had entered the bookshop in which seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine works only the day before, is found dead. Josie’s ambition to go to college takes a knock when she’s determined to find out the truth: how did a well-educated, healthy man suddenly die? […]

  8. I have this book on my TBR pile & really must get into soon as I’ve already done a Friday 56 and Book Beginnings on it 🙂

  9. […] Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys Let’s face it, Ruta Sepetys was always going to end up in my top ten. Nonetheless, I was quite nervous about reading Out of the Easy because I thought Between Shades of Gray was perfection and even though I read it over two years ago, I am still constantly telling other people to read it. What if Out of the Easy just didn’t make me feel the same way? But I had nothing to worry about because I loved it just as much, even though they couldn’t be more different. I love the characters, the mystery, the bookishness, being transported to the gritty New Orleans’ French Quarter in the 1950s…. all of it. […]

  10. *adds to TBR-list on goodreads*

    Thanks for the tip! Sounds like an interesting and different kind of read from what I’m used to =)

  11. […] Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys about life in the gritty 1950s New Orleans’ French Quarter, the world of a young girl living in poverty above a bookshop, and her attempts to solve a curious murder mystery. (Review) […]

  12. […] Book Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys | prettybooks | Fiction, Young Adult and Children&#8217… […]

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