Source: Publisher/ Blog Tour
Seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is trying to get out of New Orleans. She’s the daughter of a brothel prostitute, she’s been living on her own since she was twelve and her mother proudly tells everyone Josie was named after a very successful madame. Josie has vowed to be a better person and accept the fact that her mother would choose money over her any day. As much as Josie despises that her mother is a prostitute, Willie, her madame has consistently looked out for Josie. She’s given Josie a job, cleaning her house, she’s given her generous gifts and protects Josie to the best of her ability. When a wealthy man, mysteriously dies, Josie’s mother is questioned. Josie learns quickly that her mother is hiding something.
Ruta Sepety’s second novel Out of the Easy, was very different from her first novel, Between Shades of Grey. However, I equally loved both books, and I was immediately hooked. Out of the Easy takes place in 1950’s New Orleans. Josie is a wonderful character, with a complicated life. Her relationship with her mother is difficult, she doesn’t even pretend to care about Josie. In addition to working at the brothel, as a cleaning lady, Josie works at a bookstore for her room and board. Since she was twelve, she’s stayed in a one room office, above the store. If it wasn’t for the kindness of others, New Orleans would have swallowed up Josie.
The secondary cast of characters are very well rounded and they really add to the story. It’s clear that Josie has a strong support system in her friends. Josie can’t ignore what goes on in the brothel, but she can’t walk away from Willie and all that she has done for her. Willie is like a mother figure for her, and she never attempts to get her involved in the brothel. She admires Josie’s plan to further her education, but she is reluctant to support her in moving away. It’s clear that Willie just doesn’t want her to be away from her. No matter what trouble Josie finds herself in, Willie always has a way to bail her out.
The relationship between Josie and her mother is central to the story. Her mother doesn’t hide the fact that she regretted having her, she could care less how Josie is able to survive but she never hesitates to tell Josie how to dress and look pretty. Her mother has dreams of moving to Hollywood, with her mobster boyfriend, without Josie. She leaves just as this man turns up dead, and Josie finds his watch under her mother’s abandoned bed.
Josie doesn’t trust men many men but she is confused between Patrick, the bookstore owners son, and Jessie, a ladies’ man who only has eyes for her. They’re both there when she needs them and they both understand. Jessie continually tells her that she’s in love with him but she doesn’t realize it yet.
Out of the Easy is a character driven novel that will drawn readers in. New Orleans, and Mardi Gras is a perfect setting for this plot line Josie is a great main character that will have readers rooting for her. Highly recommended! The writing is top-notch and captivating.