Sepetys, R. (2013). Out of the easy. New York: Philomel Books. ISBN: 9780399256929
Annotation: In New Orleans at the start of 1950, Josie is just trying to find a way to get out of the French Quarter and start a life where she can get an education and nobody knows that her mother is a prostitute.
Reaction: I really enjoyed this book. The main character is a strong, super relatable, hardworking teen girl, who is doing the best she can in the crappy circumstances she was given. There’s a little bit of a mystery surrounding the death of a wealthy stranger, but the story is mainly about how Josie handles the tangled web of lies about his death and her plans for getting out of the Quarter.
She’s surrounded by colorful secondary characters, who really help to make this book a good read. Her patchwork family includes the madame where her mother is employed, the madame’s driver and housekeeper, all the other prostitutes, and the father/son bookshop owners who have let her live in the apartment above the shop for eight years. She also encounters plenty of sleazy characters, not the least of whom is her own mother. Reading about Josie’s complicated feelings towards her mother is a little heartbreaking. As an outsider, I just wanted to give her some Real Talk about wasting her love on someone who clearly doesn’t care about her and is incapable of being loving or supportive, but it’s often hard for people to accept that their parents are horrible people, and it was nice to see Josie struggle with that.
I would recommend this for teenagers who love historical fiction or strong female characters. Sepetys really brings to life Josie’s world, showing us all the ugliness that surrounds her, but also the love and support she finds.