Title: Out of the Easy
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Published by: Speak
Publication date: 4th March 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
For seventeen year old Josie Moraine, growing up in 1940s New Orleans hasn’t been all that great, and being known as the daughter of a prostitute hasn’t helped.
When her mother first moved them to New Orleans and into Willie’s brothel, the fact that young Josie could clean and make martinis was her ticket in. From a young age, Josie had to take care of herself. Her mother wouldn’t do it. She didn’t know who her father was. She was eleven when a bookshop owner took pity on her and let her have a bedroom in the attic in exchange for work. Here, Josie thrives among the world of stories and independence. But she always worries about her mother, who relies more on Josie’s money and empty promises from dangerous, rich men than on her own daughter.
Willie becomes a motherly figure for Josie, teaching her how to shoot a rifle and have thick skin. Willie was by far my favorite character, as she often said things like, “They’re Cubans, not Mexicans! Go change into your velvet gown. You’re a prostitute, not a piñata, for God’s sake.”
In the midst of all the chaos of a murder investigation, stolen money, trying to get out of New Orleans for university, and an absentee mother, Josie has to make smart decisions quickly. She takes on powerful people in New Orleans for even the possibility of being rewarded with a way out.
Out of the Easy portrays life for young women in the 1940s/1950s, highlighting how they’re objectified, have less opportunities and no matter how much work is put in, they may never be compensated. The book is about way more than that-a mystery, rich outsiders, fancy parties, the girls in the brothel, two loving, caring young men and more, but the feminist aspect of the book stood out to me the most. It really made me appreciate how far we’ve come in the world and also how far we still have to go.
I liked this book and it made me appreciate a lot of things, but despite it’s happy ending (if you want to call it that), I found it quite saddening. It’s a very real story and it was often difficult for me to push aside my emotions for the characters. Nonetheless, it’s a well written novel and if you’re prepared to cry, I see no reason why you shouldn’t pick this book up asap.