Publisher: Philomel Books (Penguin)
Release Date: February 12th, 2013
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.If I had written this review right after I finished it, I would have quickly given this a 5/5. But I'm glad I waited because as I thought about it, I thought that maybe I didn't want to give it a 5/5 so quickly. I'll admit that I'm actually a pretty harsh critic; it's hard for me to give a book a solid 5/5, even if I personally loved it that much. I think Out of the Easy is one of those books.
Don't get me wrong. I love this book. It's probably among one of my favorites at the moment. But a lot of that has more to do with me than it does with the book itself, I believe. It's for this reason, and because I just can't decide, that I will not leave a rating at the end of this review. Maybe someday I'll come back and decide, but for now, I'm going to leave it open.
Now, to the actual review.
I love the intricate characters. Almost every single character has such a different and complex background. I want to say that almost all of the characters, no matter how minor, are more than one-dimensional. You connect with the characters. You feel their pain, sorrow, happiness, anger, and you'll probably end up hating at least two of them. But this book is mainly a character driven book, so thank goodness the characters are amazing.
The plot is, as I said, mainly character driven. If you're looking for an action packed book, this probably isn't the best choice. There are some more suspenseful sections, but there aren't many. Personally, I love character driven books, which is probably why I love the book as much as I do. Some of the plot twists I saw coming, but there were definitely a few, particularly one surrounding Patrick, that I was not expecting. I cried so many times while reading the book. It felt real, as if you were right there with Josie.
Another aspect of the novel that I enjoyed was how Willie and the girls that work for her aren't defined by their profession. So often in society, these kinds of people are looked down upon because of what they choose to do (perhaps that has changed a lot from the setting of the book to the present day, but I think the idea still stands), and the book shows that there's more to them. They're all people. Ruta handled this extremely well.
There was something about this book that I can't quite explain in concrete words. It left me feeling something that I can't quite describe. Perhaps it's something like hope, but it's also so much more than that. Both Josie and Jesse grew up in such tough childhoods, yet they both turned out okay. It was a bit obvious that they'd end up together, but I kept rooting for them until the end. Their chemistry was so obvious, which made it all the more aggravating when Josie kept pushing him, and everyone else, away. But I'm straying. I can't get over how perfectly the title fits the book, and I think it also compliments what I was feeling when I finished. It was that feeling that made me want to jump to write this review and give it a 5/5.
But the one thing I can't shake is that the plot was also lacking in many parts. Yes, it's character driven, but there were some slow sections that I really had to push through. They were necessary, but they weren't the easiest to get through. That's really the main reason I've been struggling to rate this; because the book is amazing, and the slow(er) pace doesn't detract from the other parts of the book that are so well done that they overshadow the pace. It's more like an issue that's pushed to the back of your mind because the characters and their interactions are so compelling.
And I suppose that I should leave it at that!
Rating: ?/5 (See above for my explanation!)