Ruta Sepetys’ Out of the Easy makes readers experience The Big Easy in a different way.
Summary: Out of the Easy starts with Josie (Jo) Moraine, the main character, telling us that she’s the daughter of a prostitute. She lives in a brothel under the care of Willie—the Madame of the house. That only lasts until Jo turns twelve, gets a job, and lives above the bookshop at which she works. Although Jo and her mother are estranged, the trouble that follows her mother soon comes to Josie. Police are asking her about a murder she knows her mother had something to do with, the main mob boss in New Orleans puts a “mark” on her, and there’s a robbery in Josie’s apartment that has her mother’s fingerprints all over it. With all of that plus a best friend who’s leaving and an attractive mechanic who has his eye on her, Josie wants nothing more than to leave New Orleans and all its heat behind her. She wants to attend Smith College, and she’s determined to not let anything or anyone stand in the way of those plans.
Review: There are enough narrative twists to keep the reader interested and engaged in Out of the Easy. Many chapters in the middle of the book lag in regard to purpose, but Sepetys makes sure to include a lot of dialogue in order to keep those transitional chapters moving toward the more substantive chapters. Josie’s character is partially developed, so when her plans crumble before her, the reader doesn’t have all that much sympathy for her. Even with this disconnect, Out of the Easy is enjoyable and structured enough to keep you reading.
Bottom Line: Enough plot turns to make up for the lack of depth