Out of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hindered by her identity as the daughter of a prostitute, Josie is trying to get out of New Orleans and into college. Then there is a suspicious death, and despite her best efforts, she gets tangled in a mess of lies, secrets, romance, insanity, and criminals. Finding her way out of the mess and out of New Orleans means she might have to do things she doesn't want to do, and face truths she doesn't want to face.
Josie was a powerful main character. She was spunky, quick-witted, likeable. She knows what she wants and she is constantly thinking about and working for it. I like how the author in this interview described her character like this: ". . .we can learn to fly, even if we’re born with broken wings. The idea of that broken, yet beautiful bird became the character of Josie Moraine" (EW).) I really liked that Josie was that kind of character--constantly faced with challenges and getting slammed from all sides sometimes--but she still tries to overcome them and doesn't let things permanently set her back. Those strong characters have a much needed place on bookshelves these days!
Incredible setting. The French Quarter is bursting with life and color, mystery and secrets. Incredibly dynamic place that gives so much life to this story. It seemed like Sepetys really did her research on this one, and so was able to bring all those details of murder, history, the mob, post-WWII America, and the carnival atmosphere of New Orleans into use.
I didn't mind the slow building of the story. You know everything is going to come together at some very intense future scene of action, but the story takes it's time getting there. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially since the vibrant, spicy flavor of the New Orleans setting fills you up while the plot is on a slow simmer.
However, the romance aspect felt a little abrupt. Josie's relationship with both of the gorgeous boys in this book felt a little awkward, most likely because it wasn't built enough. Those relationships felt like they just happened--or like we came in on them as they had already started-- and I would have liked a little more development on that part. Especially in the character of Jesse. He could have been a major hearthrob but we didnt really get to see enough of him! Crazy twist though, that I did not see coming! but which added some of those What?! I can't believe this! moments.
Really, this book did have a lot of twists which kept things interesting and moving along. Overall, a rich story with a strong main character in a backdrop that while almost eclipsing other elements, ultimately provided a quick read full of mystery, lies, secrets, a slow-building suspense, hopes, and dreams.