Author: Ruta Sepetys
Rating: 5 stars
Summary: 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.
Review: By the first few pages I was absolutely enraptured, and the final chapter came all too soon.
The characters, from wonderful to despicable, were enthralling. Though Josie has had a rough life (raised by an cruel mother who steals from her and constantly degrades her, got her own place and a job at age eleven, works as a maid in the brothel in addition to her job at the bookstore), my bond with her grew from more than just sympathy. Josie is smart - both book-wise and street-wise. She's a funny, caring, and driven young woman. She struggles with whether to stay or go, and what she's willing to do to get what she wants. Her mother couldn't care less what Josie does, unless it concerns money. Willie is a strong, independent woman who, though she might not show it very often, truly cares for Josie. I love how Sepetys presented the women of the brothel; not simply as prostitutes, but as humans with individual quirks and personalities that happened to be prostitutes, empowered women who weren't just defined by their profession.
The story, a seemingly simple who-dun-it that is much more complex; a tourist's death shrouded in a mystery that tangles everyone in its web.
Out of the Easy is one of those books where once you finish it, you can't help but just stop and go "Wow."