WHAT BETTER WAY TO SPEND MARDI GRAS THAN READING A BOOK SET IN NEW ORLEANS?! (It kinda shows some of the not so great parts of New Orleans… But it’s still New Orleans! 😊)
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.
With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny. -goodreads.com summary
I don’t usually pick up historical fiction, but I went into this one with high expectations! I LOVED Salt to the Sea (also by Ruta Sepetys) and I enjoyed Between Shades of Gray. I know Ruta Sepetys does a great job at writing world war two stories set in eastern Europe… but how well does she write New Orleans? Pretty well! I am not actually from New Orleans specifically, but I grew up an hour from the city, so I’d say I can tell when someone is faking it. This story feels genuine. It doesn’t paint New Orleans as some perfect city where only amazing things happen. No, Sepetys shows you the lowest and dirtiest parts of the city— but she also shows how the city is full of some great people with passion and heart.
The Characters! Sepetys has yet to fail at providing compelling and complex characters
Josie: She is SUCH a developed main character! She is not this one-dimensional cardboard cut-out that’s all perfect and never struggles. No! You see Josie struggling to attempt to achieve her seemingly impossible goals while trying not to fall into the lifestyle her mother leads. She has to ask herself how far she is willing to go to make it out of New Orleans. And if the only way out involves compromising everything you’ve always worked for, is it worth it?
Love Triangle: Jesse and Patrick are both actually fleshed out and well-written characters. When I felt the love triangle happening I got worried, but I can actually see both of them with Josie in a happy relationship.
Patrick: I fell in love with Patrick immediately! He and Josie are such good friends, he is adorable, AND he runs a bookstore… what’s not to love?! Of course, he does have his own demons and issues and seeing that explored was a great insight into his character.
Jesse: he took a bit longer to warm up to me, but by the end of the novel, I was a fan of him. I wish we could’ve spent a LITTLE more time with him… but I think he worked well enough for the story.
I don’t really have strong negatives for this novel, as much as I just didn’t connect with it as much as I did books such as Salt to the Sea. Nothing in Out of the Easy even brought me close to tears and that’s a shame when Salt to the Sea reduced me to such a puddle of tears. This is actually a much more hopeful read, despite it taking place in not the best of situations.
I’m so glad that I have now gone through reading all of Ruta Sepetys novels! I found one to stand out above the others, but they are all still great novels, and everyone should give them a shot. Even if you aren’t a big fan of historical fiction, pick this one up! It’s a great read and you won’t regret it!
I’m gonna keep this spoiler section brief because other than a few moments where I contemplated throwing this novel out of a window, I don’t have much to say. The main spoilery topic I want to discuss is the ending of the novel, and how thing ended significantly happier than I expected. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s a very happy and hopeful ending, but I almost wish Josie would’ve had at least one more thing not work out in her favor (But idk I like sad books so maybe I just wanted this one to end a little sadder)(I’m a sad human being lol). It just would’ve been a type of cruel irony if Josie tried the entire novel to take control of her own future only for her attempts to fail leaving her stuck in New Orleans and maybe even becoming what she always vowed she’d never become and following in her mother’s footsteps. While this would give off a theme that I don’t really agree with (implying that we can never truly escape the circumstances of our birth in terms of social class) it would’ve created for a more interesting narrative. But also, I assume by the fact that Ruta Sepetys didn’t write a super depressing ending, she also disagrees with this idea, and wanting things to be a little more uplifting.
(Sorry this spoiler section was just kinda my rambling thoughts)