Out Of The Easy by Ruta SepetysOut Of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Out Of The Easy

byRuta Sepetys

Paperback | March 4, 2014

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“A haunting peek at the life of a teenage girl in 1950s New Orleans.”--Entertainment Weekly


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.

Ruta Sepetys (www.rutasepetys.com) was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. She is the award-winning, bestselling author of BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, OUT OF THE EASY, and the upcoming SALT TO THE SEA. Ruta lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow her on Twitter at @RutaSepetys.
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Title:Out Of The EasyFormat:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 8.25 × 5.44 × 1 inPublished:March 4, 2014Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0147508436

ISBN - 13:9780147508430

Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not My Kind of Read I couldn't bring myself to finish this one, even though I loved reading both Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray. I feel the pace of the plot played a part in my disinterest. Still, I respect this author a lot. She is a tremendous researcher and a captivating writer. This one just wasn't for me.
Date published: 2017-09-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A For the Lover of Books Review Number of pages: 346 Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1 Rating (out of five stars): 3.75 For the most part, I really enjoyed Out of the Easy. If I were to rank Ruta Sepety’s books, Out of the Easy would be between Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea, with Salt to the Sea being my favourite so far. The most important ingredient in a good historical fiction book is the characters, so it’s a good thing the characters in Out of the Easy are so well done. Josie’s voice practically jumps of the page off the page, and the side characters all have distinct voices as well. But the best part is the fact that the prostitutes are treated like human beings. I never thought I would see the day where YA, a genre where the popular girls who oppose the beautiful-but-don’t-know-it protagonists are often called whores for no reason, would treat prostitutes like human beings. I think the reason Out of the Easy is so compelling is that Jo is easy to relate to. At one point in our lives, most of us have wanted “out” of something, just as Jo desperately wants to escape life in “the Big Easy”. Out of the Easy is also a much lighter book than Sepety’s other two novels. Yes it features murder and all that fun stuff, but it isn’t like Jo is stuck in a labour camp or in the middle of a naval disaster. She’s simply stuck in a less than ideal situation. While Out of the Easy was emotionally compelling for the majority of the novel, with roughly 100 pages remaining it starts to lose steam. We know who the killer is (in fact we’ve know it all along and it’s not that important to the story), and we know if Josie got into Smith. The story loses the small amount of tension it had and never really gets it back. Without that tension, the emotional scenes aren’t as powerful, and there’s no clear reason as to why you should continue reading. I also found the story to be missing an indescribable “something”. I was laughing and tearing up, but there was just something missing that was stopping me from loving it. Overall, Out of the Easy was an enjoyable and relatable novel, despite it losing steam near the end, earning it 3.75 out of 5 stars.
Date published: 2017-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful THE CHARACTERS!!!! The characters were very well written, you feel for them and want them to succeed. This was a demonstration of great writing where the author shows instead of tells. Loved this book.
Date published: 2017-06-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great piece of historical fiction set in New Orleans I read this book before travelling to New Orleans because I wanted to get a bit of a feel for the city going in. And I got so much more. This is a very special book: moving, true, and written in such a captivating way. I can't say any more -- I don't want to spoil it.
Date published: 2017-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from french quarter in the 50's? YES PLEASE! "A dame that knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up." loved this book. it was on sale for 2 dollars and it was worth so much more. Josie is an inspiring character tho at times i wanted to smack her in the face so so she can face reality. however unfortunate she was, good people stick with her and she eventually found her way to chase her dream. being poor and unloved might not be easy but they are not valid excuses for someone to ruin their life over it. she lost people along the way but ended up with the (straight) dream guy.
Date published: 2017-03-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it It's very rare for me to read a book and immediately be hooked from the first page, however Out of the Easy got me hooked from page one. Each and every character was interesting and was well developed. I'm one who enjoys a good slow burn relationship between the main leads but that wasn't the case here, well not traditionally at least. The heroine and the hero have a beautiful friendship but the romance was pushed very far to the background. Usually that would bother me with other books but the characterizations were so good and the plot was so intriguing that I felt everything fell into place nonetheless.
Date published: 2017-02-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Surprisingly optimistic I went into this with some trepidation, because, although I was intrigued by the blurb, I was recently extremely underwhelmed with Sepetys' Between Shades of Gray. Sepetys latches onto interesting premises (premisi?) but her prose in Between Shades of Gray was stilted, childish and detached. I let out a big breath of release upon reading the first chapter of Out of the Easy and realizing that, on that score at least, I wasn't going to be disappointed again. I have this thing where I really have a hard time getting into non-fantasy historical fiction or contemporaries that feel like a casual stroll through people's lives, relying soley on figurative writing, Capital-M Messages and Meaning, or suffering in order to make the book feel meaningful and to garner emotion. Books like these often seem to focus so much on these aspects that they lose a lot of what makes a book work. A book can be completely serviceable as long as it has a solid plot arc, engaging characters, and a determined approach to it's premise and purpose. Great books add on deep character emotion, lyrical prose, or any number of bells and whistles. I feel like a lot of historical fiction or contemporary skip the former and go straight for the latter, and fail at both. It leads to Inconsequential Drivel Syndrome, which, in my opinion, is usually fatal. While this book had a tinge of IDS, it largely escaped it by being entirely true to it's premise and, slightly aimless plot aside, peopling it with such a wide cast of very human characters. Sepetys opened a can of worms by setting the majority of the story in a brothel. Half the characters were prostitutes, and I was cringing as I waited for it to go to either of two terrible extremes - vilifying the women or making saintly victims out of it. There was a lot of opportunity for thoughtless character treatment and stereotyping, but this book never took the bait. Nearly all of the characters were surprisingly multifaceted and interesting, and I found myself growing increasingly attached to them. It was also very real. I mentioned before the aimless plot, but for once I was willing to forgive this, because while it ended abruptly, I was pleased with what I got. The consequences and realism of the situation surprised me and pleased me. There was never any deus ex machina to come in and save the day, nor was there one massive victory, but it was quietly victorious and stubbornly optimistic. It was hopeful, and there's a lot to be said for hope. In conclusion, I'm glad I read this, and it has restored my faith in an author that, to be honest, I had written off.
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Favorite Book!!! Once again Ruta doesn't fail to make me fall in love with characters. I absolutely love this book and the mystery it holds. She has a beautiful way with words and I would recommend this to everyone.
Date published: 2016-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read! Excellent Story, couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2015-12-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great mystery Josie’s life isn’t easy. Her mother is a prostitute and only thinks for herself. She learned at a young age to take care of herself and wants nothing to do with her mother and her toxic lifestyle. Her main goal is to leave The Big Easy and go to college. Yet, her mother and her poisonous boyfriend Cincinnati makes it hard for her do so, she takes matters in her own hands only to be caught in the middle of a murder. Young women like Josie sure had a hard time even applying to get into any school. I felt for her. I pitied her. I cheered for her. Josie is the character you grow to admire and love. She is as strong as any kick ass heroine with the intelligence to match. Her life was not easy, but she made it work. I admired her tenacity and determination to never give up and I have to say that I have grown to love her character as if she was my own friend. Jesse, the mysterious and rugged boy she grew up with is wanted by all the ladies but only has eyes for Josie. He likes to help Josie when she’s in need, and loves to tease her whenever he can. Patrick, her best friend and co-worker is reliable and supportive. He has a hard life living with his father who is sick and is in need of around-the-clock care. The scenes with him were heartfelt and I pretty much teared up he was on the page. There were so many secondary characters in this book that I loved. Willie, with her sharp tongue and protective habits, Cokie, and his supportive and optimistic view for Josie’s future were both so endearing and I can’t help but love that these two characters helped Josie along the way. The writing is fluid, humorous, infectious and downright entertaining! I couldn’t stop reading until the very end. Mind you, there were some very predictable parts but that’s probably just me unraveling the mystery as I read along. I thought it was a bit too long, but then again that’s probably because I’m impatient and I want to know what happens right away. I can’t wait to grab a copy of Ruta’s previous book so I can read more from her beautiful writing style and lovable but flawed characters. Characters So many characters that I just loved! Pacing/Length Fast in pacing, but a little long for me. Cover/Design Beautiful. The cage symbolizes her goal perfectly. Plot SO much drama and problems, but Josie was just a great main character to cheer for. Overall, a must-read for any book lover!
Date published: 2015-01-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read A truly lovely book. I was left feeling uplifted and entertained. The characters were fabulous and I loved them all - even the ones I loved to hate. There is just enough detail and hints at 'taboo' subjects to start young minds thinking without doing damage. Respect for others is a recurring theme and well presented. All in all a book I wish had been around when my kids were younger.
Date published: 2014-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Out of the easy Great book, looking forward to reading more of Ruta sepetys books.
Date published: 2014-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review from Swept Away By Books Out of The Easy was a book that I just picked up very randomly. The paperback had just come out and I loved seeing the cover at work, and the book I had been reading wasn't doing it for me so I just started reading it on my break. It soon completely captured my attention! Ruta Sepetys transported me back to 1950's New Orleans through steamy summer nights, a girl attempting to break out of a mold, a dreamy boy on a motorcycle and a house full of surprising women. Jo was the type of character who is tough as nails but still has a vulnerable side. She's determined to go to a College far away from New Orleans, but despite her dislike of the Quarter and everything involved in it, she has deep attachments to the people there. All of the characters were so full of life and I loved getting to know them. Willie was brilliant and her love of Josie was strong, although she had strange ways of showing it at times. Cokie, Patrick, Charlie and Sadie and all of the girls in Willie's house cared about Josie so much, and I loved seeing her with such a support system. The romance with Jessie was sweet, and he was certainly swoony with his beat up leather jacket and motorcycle, as well as his actions, but I would have loved to have seen just a little bit more. The murder mystery wasn't as prominent as I was thinking it would be either, more or just a side plot, but it kept it interesting and fit the tone of the book perfectly. All in all Out of The Easy was a huge surprise for me, and i'm so happy I picked it up!
Date published: 2014-05-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Read Better Between Shades of Gray was much better. The author had a deeper meaning into the book, and the storyline was full of plot twists and shocking secrets... this one, not so much. I see this as one of those rebel gangster books. I'm not really into those with those concepts and maybe that's why I didn't enjoy reading this novel? I wish that Josie was more abundant to her surroundings, and less emotionless than she was. Good, but not the best.
Date published: 2014-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Out of the easy Out Of The Easy is a gloomy yet - in many ways - inspiring book that explores themes such as poverty, prostitution, mental illness, abandonment, murder, abuse and making one's own destiny. It's a story of a girl who dreams of a normal life - a life that doesn't involve cleaning brothels, sleeping in a book store and constantly trying to appease her abusive, Hollywood-star-wannabe prostitute mother. An engaging, thoroughly captivating tale full of phenomenally depicted settings and masterfully fleshed-out characters that you'll never forget. 17 year-old Josie Moraine has never had it easy. Her mother, a self-absorbed and thieving prostitute in a Conti Street brothel, has made it clear to her that she was nothing more than a burden and a mistake. Her father is unknown, he could be any one of her mother's many clients. Despite being abused, neglected and unloved, Josie's determined to get away from the filthy streets of French Quarter and make a good life for herself. She dreams of attending Smith College in Northampton. She's saving every hard-earned penny, hoping to one day escape from the Big Easy. When her mother leaves for California with a brutal criminal, Cincinnati, Josie is worried, but also relieved. But before long, she learns that her senseless mother managed to make a mess out of her life yet again, leaving her with a dead-man's watch, a mob debt and entangled in a high-profile murder case. Well-read, street-smart and strong-willed, Josie is a phenomenal lead character. Her story really pulled on my heartstrings. She's the kind of girl you can relate to, even though your lives and personalities are worlds apart. She's kind, understanding, giving, but she can also be fierce and unstoppable. She's gone through so much! She's more mature than any other girl her age, clever, thoughtful and not easily broken. I admired her and cheered for her. Ruta Sepetys did an amazing job creating three-dimensional characters. All her characters - from the crude but caring madam, to the two love interests - are written with exceptional clarity, authenticity and conviction. Having first-hand experience with mental illness (Alzheimers), I was especially moved by Charlie's story. The passages describing his violent behavior and how it affected his son, Patrick, were truly heartbreaking. Sepetys wrote about his suffering with frankness and sensitivity and I must say I teared up a few times. Sepetys prose is flavorful, descriptive and deeply penetrating. I didn't just read Out Of The Easy, I gobbled it down. It definitely was an unforgettable reading experience, full of thought-provoking passages, unique New Orleans atmosphere, authenticity and breathtaking visuals. Most of all, it was a beautiful and sophisticated story - both touching and inspiring - about life, dreams, and self-esteem. A story about the harsh reality of the New Orleans French Quarter, rich people with broken souls, prostitutes, gamblers and criminals. And one girl determined to break away from the life she's told she's destined to live. A reflective story that wraps its arms around you like a soft blanket and holds you in a tight grip all the way through. I found myself lost in the world Ruta Sepetys so skilfully crafted. Her writing style had me hooked from the opening lines. I admit, I became a Sepetys junkie. Out Of The Easy is a soul-stirring and fascinating story, written with care for historical and cultural detail. Sensual, rich and perfectly satisfying. Poignant. All in all, it's a phenomenal tale written by a very capable writer with undeniable talent for words and character development. I highly recommend picking it up, it's one book you really don't want to miss!
Date published: 2013-10-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautifully Written I was incredibly eager to read Ruta Sepetys' second novel Out of the Easy when I first read it's synopsis. I have had a slight obsession with New Orleans and the French Quarter since I was a kid. Take me back to the 1950's and Out of the Easy was high up on my TBR for 2013. Having not read Sepetys' debut novel Between Shades of Gray, I wasn't sure what I was getting into. But I had pretty high expectations, because Between Shades of Gray was so well received among readers everywhere. Not only that, Out of the Easy was getting rave reviews. Everyone was loving it. And after reading it, I loved it as well. The audio book is narrated by Lauren Fortgang (who has narrated a number of audio books including Precious and Fragile Things by Megan Hart and other adult romances), and is just under ten hours long. I devoured this one in a couple days in as many sittings. Fortgang does a really good job of narrating this story. Because Out of the Easy takes place in Louisiana, the majority of the characters have southern accents. Fortgang does a good job of conveying the southern twang of the characters but of also making each one unique. None of them came of flat due to narration- which can sometimes happen with audio books. Overall the audio book of Out of the Easy was a great experience and I was very happy with the narration. The story itself was interesting. While I totally loved it, I spent a good portion of the novel waiting for something to happen- this is in no way a bad thing. What's interesting about Out of the Easy is it is very character driven, and the focus is on the relationships the characters have with one another. There isn't a strong plot. If you like character driven novels you will love this book, but if you are looking for fast paced adventure with a lot of suspense you won't get it. Neither will you get a swoony romance. There is a romance, but it's very subtle and you don't realize what it is until midway through the novel. The writing in Out of the Easy is flawless. Ruta Sepetys is a beautiful writer. As many who have read Between Shades of Gray have said. Listening to the audio book was such an enjoyable experience which was one hundred percent due to the beauty of the story. Overall, Out of the Easy was fantastic. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who really is looking for a well written story. It's just good. I will absolutely be looking to read Between Shades of Gray soon.
Date published: 2013-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous!! Story Description: Philomel|February 12, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-399-25692-9 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 to 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. Jose 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. My Review: Josie Moraine’s mother, Louise, began working as a prostitute in 1940 when Josie was just seven-years-old – the same year they moved from Detroit to New Orleans. Josie says her mother isn’t the “filthy, streetwalking kind” of prostitute and sleeps with men for “money and gifts” but according to the “dictionary, that makes her a prostitute.” She is actually quite pretty, fairly well-spoken and has lovely clothes according to Josie. Their second day in New Orleans, Louise received an invitation to visit someone and a cabbie named, Cokie, showed up to escort Louise and Josie. They pulled up to a house on Conti Street that was painted a pale yellow with black lattice balconies. Josie was quite taken aback with the place and asked her mother whose house it was. “It’s her house. Willie Woodley’s” said, Louise. “HER house? But Willie’s a man’s name”, Jose said. “Stop it, Josie. Willie is a woman’s name. Now keep quiet!” replied her mother. Stepping into the house, the first thing Josie saw was a veiny, pale, hand draped over the arm of an upholstered wingback chair. Her nails were glossy red like pomegranate seeds that could pop a balloon with a quick flick. Gold and diamonds clustered every finger. Her voice was thick, her plantinum blond hair was pulled tight in a clasp engraved with the initials W.W. Her eyes were lined with charcoal and she had wrinkles fringing out from the corners, and her lips were scarlet red. Willie made it quite clear that she didn’t like children which therefore meant Louise and Josie could not reside in Willie’s house with the other girls. Willie told Louise about a small apartment on Dauphine that one of her bookies had been renting but he’d just recently gotten himself shot and killed so wouldn’t be needing the apartment anymore. Willie told Louise to settle in and they’d talk again at the end of the month. By 1950 when Josie was seventeen-years-old, she was living alone above the bookstore where she worked. Her mother was prostituting for Willie and had no interest in Josie whatsoever. Josie’s big dream was to escape the Big Easy and head for Smith college but the tuition was two-thousand dollars a year and where would she come up with that kind of money? In the meantime, her mother, Louise has gotten herself involved with a man named Cincinnati who was one bad dude. Someone you certainly wouldn’t want to cross. Although he beat Louise, she could look over that due to his generosity with his big money, fancy restaurants and the best hotels New Orleans has to offer. One day a tourist stops into the bookstore where Louise works and purchases two books but winds up dead on New Year’s Eve. At first his death is ruled as a heart attack until police get word that something else is up. His body is exhumed, an autopsy done and it’s concluded that he was murdered. Everyone in the Big Easy is on edge and being questioned by the police. Willie, wanting to protect Josie sends her away to her summer home until the heat dies down. She didn’t want Louise dragging Josie into something she wasn’t responsible for. What Willie doesn’t know is that Josie is already involved. She took something that belonged to the tourist that the police and dead man’s wife are now looking for and Josie doesn’t know what to do with the evidence. What transpires in this story will knock your socks off. I read this book in one sitting as I just couldn’t put it down. It was the best 4.5 hours I’ve spent in a long time. Out of the Easy is one story I won’t soon forget. The characters are endearing each in their own way and one in particular is an absolute doll. You’ll love this book and will want to pass it on to friends and family, I know that’s what I’m going to do. Ruta Sepetys’ first novel was titled “Between Shades of Gray” and if you haven’t read it, you might want to pick it up at the same time as ‘’Out of the Easy”. Ms. Sepetys is well on her way to becoming a well-known bestselling author and I can’t wait to read her next book.
Date published: 2013-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gorgeously Written Historical Fiction Novel! Although I haven't read Ruta Sepetys's previous novel Between Shades of Gray, I've heard tons of glowing praise for it, so I couldn't wait to read Out of the Easy, hoping it would be just as amazing. Out of the Easy really is a gorgeously written historical fiction novel! The words on the pages seemed to flow effortlessly together and brought the story completely to life. Set in the early 1950s, Ruta Sepetys's Out of the Easy is a coming-of-age story filled with hope, hardship, romance, and the darkly exciting Southern flair of New Orleans. Josie is truly the star of this novel, and her character development is easily the strongest in Out of the Easy. Fate seems to be conspiring against Josie, but I rooted for her to succeed from the very beginning and loved how she never gave up fighting for her future. Growing up in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Josie is known to the locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute working for Willie Woodley. Josie has essentially raised herself, away from her mother's negative and sometimes abusive influence, and lives alone in a small apartment above her best friend Patrick's family-run bookshop where she also works too. Josie is hard-working, intelligent, and stays true to her morals. She would do anything to leave the Big Easy and attend a prestigious college, but she also knows her limits and would never sell her body for the much needed money. If I had to say anything negative about the book, it would be Josie shines so brightly in Out of the Easy that everyone else around her sort of fades into the background. These characters are not necessarily forgotten, but their storylines felt unresolved to me when I reached the conclusion. Josie's mother is weak and refuses to accept she's growing older, acting like a teenager and partying. Despite Josie's warnings, she also continues to date a dangerous man. I felt bad for Josie, I really did. I mean, she continues to worry and care about her Mom, even though she really doesn't deserve it. Josie and Patrick's conversations as they worked together in the bookshop and had a little game of guessing customer tastes were some of my favourite scenes. Patrick had his own personal issues to deal with, and seemed to disappear sometimes, and I wish this had been further explored, that Josie had noticed something wasn't quite right with her closest friend. There's also a dash of romance in the novel in the form of the very gorgeous yet sweet Jesse. Although her mother certainly has a reputation with men, Josie is very inexperienced, and it made her vulnerable to open her heart and draw closer to him. Despite some faults I found with character development in Out of the Easy, I was able to overlook them while I was reading, so it didn't really affect my reading experience negatively. Throwing in the mysterious murder of a wealthy tourist that sets events in motion, Ruta Sepetys has written an absolutely compelling novel that swept me away to a different time period. If you enjoy reading YA historical fiction novels, I'd definitely recommend Ruta Sepetys's Out of the Easy! You can also read this review at: http://midnightbloomreads.blogspot.ca/2013/02/out-of-easy-by-ruta-sepetys.html
Date published: 2013-02-15

Read from the Book

CHAPTER ONE:My mother’s a prostitute. Not the filthy, streetwalking kind. She’s actually quite pretty, fairly well spoken, and has lovely clothes. But she sleeps with men for money or gifts, and according to the dictionary, that makes her a prostitute.She started working in 1940 when I was seven, the year we moved from Detroit to New Orleans. We took a cab from the train station straight to a fancy hotel on St. Charles Avenue. Mother met a man from Tuscaloosa in the lobby while having a drink. She introduced me as her niece and told the man she was delivering me to her sister. She winked at me constantly and whispered that she’d buy me a doll if I just played along and waited for her. I slept alone in the lobby that night, dreaming of my new doll. The next morning, Mother checked us in to our own big room with tall windows and small round soaps that smelled like lemon. She received a green velvet box with a strand of pearls from the man from Tuscaloosa.“Josie, this town is going to treat us just fine,” said Mother, standing topless in front of the mirror, admiring her new pearls.The next day, a dark-skinned driver named Cokie arrived at the hotel. Mother had received an invitation to visit someone important in the Quarter. She made me take a bath and insisted I put on a nice dress. She even put a ribbon in my hair. I looked silly, but I didn’t say anything to Mother. I just smiled and nodded.“Now, Josie, you aren’t to say a thing. I’ve been hoping Willie would call for me, and I don’t need you messing things up with your stubbornness. Don’t speak unless you’re spoken to. And for gosh sakes, don’t start that humming. It’s spooky when you do that. If you’re good, I’ll buy you something real special.”“Like a doll?” I said, hoping to jog her memory.“Sure, hon, would you like a doll?” she said, finishing her sweep of lipstick and kissing the air in front of the mirror.Cokie and I hit it off right away. He drove an old taxicab painted a foggy gray. If you looked close, you could see the ghost of taxi lettering on the door. He gave me a couple Mary Jane candies and a wink that said, “Hang in there, kiddo.” Cokie whistled through the gaps in his teeth as he drove us to Willie’s in his taxicab. I hummed along, hoping the molasses from the Mary Jane might yank out a tooth. That was the second night we were in New Orleans.We pulled to a stop on Conti Street. “What is this place?” I asked, craning my neck to look at the pale yellow building with black lattice balconies.“It’s her house,” said Cokie. “Willie Woodley’s.”“Her house? But Willie’s a man’s name,” I said.“Stop it, Josie. Willie is a woman’s name. Now, keep quiet!” said Mother, smacking my thigh. She smoothed her dress and fidgeted with her hair. “I didn’t think I’d be so nervous,” she muttered.“Why are you nervous?” I asked.She grabbed me by the hand and yanked me up the walk. Cokie tipped his hat to me. I smiled and waved back. The sheers in the front window shifted, covering a shadowy figure lit by an amber glow behind the glass. The door opened before we reached it.“And you must be Louise,” a woman said to Mother.A brunette in a velvet evening dress hung against the door. She had pretty hair, but her fingernails were chewed and frayed. Cheap women had split nails. I’d learned that in Detroit.“She’s waitin’ for you in the parlor, Louise,” said the brunette.A long red carpet ran from the front door to a tall staircase, crawling up and over each step. The house was opulent, gaudy, with deep green brocades and lamps with black crystals dangling from dimly lit shades. Paintings of nude women with pink nipples hung from the foyer walls. Cigarette smoke mingled with stale Eau de Rose. We walked through a group of girls who patted my head and called me sugar and doll. I remember thinking their lips looked like someone had smeared blood all over them. We walked into the front parlor.I saw her hand first, veiny and pale, draped over the arm of an upholstered wingback. Her nails, glossy red like pomegranate seeds, could pop a balloon with a quick flick. Clusters of gold and diamonds adorned nearly every finger. Mother’s breathing fluttered.I approached the hand, staring at it, making my way around the back of the chair toward the window. Black heels poked out from beneath a stiff tailored skirt. I felt the bow in my hair slide down the side of my head.“Hello, Louise.”The voice was thick and had mileage on it. Her platinum-blond hair was pulled tight in a clasp engraved with the initials W.W. The woman’s eyes, lined in charcoal, had wrinkles fringing out from the corners. Her lips were scarlet, but not bloody. She was pretty once.The woman stared at me, then finally spoke. “I said, ‘Hello, Louise.’”“Hello, Willie,” said Mother. She dragged me in front of the chair. “Willie, this is Josie.”I smiled and bent my scabby legs into my best curtsy. The arm with the red nails quickly waved me away to the settee across from her. Her bracelet jangled a discordant tune.“So . . . you’ve returned.” Willie lifted a cigarette from a mother-of-pearl case and tapped it softly against the lid.“Well, it’s been a long time, Willie. I’m sure you can understand.”Willie said nothing. A clock on the wall swung a ticktock rhythm. “You look good,” Willie finally said, still tapping the cigarette against its case.“I’m keeping myself,” said Mother, leaning back against the settee.“Keeping yourself . . . yes. I heard you had a greenhorn from Tuscaloosa last night.”Mother’s back stiffened. “You heard about Tuscaloosa?”Willie stared, silent.“Oh, he wasn’t a trick, Willie,” said Mother, looking into her lap. “He was just a nice fella.”“A nice fella who bought you those pearls, I guess,” said Willie, tapping her cigarette harder and harder against the case.Mother’s hand reached up to her neck, fingering the pearls.“I’ve got good business,” said Willie. “Men think we’re headed to war. If that’s true, everyone will want their last jollies. We’d work well together, Louise, but . . .” She nodded in my direction.“Oh, she’s a good girl, Willie, and she’s crazy smart. Even taught herself to read.”“I don’t like kids,” she spat, her eyes boring a hole through me.I shrugged. “I don’t like ’em much either.”Mother pinched my arm, hard. I felt the skin snap. I bit my lip and tried not to wince. Mother became angry when I complained.“Really?” Willie continued to stare. “So what do you do . . . if you don’t like kids?”“Well, I go to school. I read. I cook, clean, and I make mar­tinis for Mother.” I smiled at Mother and rubbed my arm.“You clean and make martinis?” Willie raised a pointy eyebrow. Her sneer suddenly faded. “Your bow is crooked, girl. Have you always been that skinny?”“I wasn’t feeling well for a few years,” said Mother quickly. “Josie is very resourceful, and—”“I see that,” said Willie flatly, still tapping her cigarette.I moved closer to Mother. “I skipped first grade altogether and started in the second grade. Mother lost track I was supposed to be in school—” Mother’s toe dug into my ankle. “But it didn’t matter much. She told the school we had transferred from another town, and I just started right in second grade.”“You skipped the first grade?” said Willie.“Yes, ma’am, and I don’t figure I missed anything at all.”“Don’t ma’am me, girl. You’ll call me Willie. Do you understand?” She shifted in her chair. I spied what looked like the butt of a gun stuffed down the side of the seat cushion.“Yes, Mrs. Willie,” I replied.“Not Mrs. Willie. Just Willie.”I stared at her. “Actually, Willie, I prefer Jo, and honestly, I don’t much care for bows.” I pulled the ribbon from my thick brown bob and reached for the lighter on the table.“I didn’t ask for a light,” said Willie.“No, but you’ve tapped your cigarette fifty-three times . . . now fifty-four, so I thought you might like to smoke it.”Willie sighed. “Fine, Jo, light my cigarette and pour me a Scotch.”“Neat or on the rocks?” I asked.Her mouth opened in surprise, then snapped shut. “Neat.” She eyed me as I lit her cigarette.“Well, Louise,” said Willie, a long exhale of smoke curling above her head, “you’ve managed to mess things up royal, now, haven’t you?”Mother sighed.“You can’t stay here, not with a child. You’ll have to get a place,” said Willie.“I don’t have any money,” said Mother.“Sell those pearls to my pawn in the morning and you’ll have some spending money. There’s a small apartment on Dauphine that one of my bookies was renting. The idiot went and got himself shot last week. He’s taking a dirt nap and won’t need the place. The rent is paid until the thirtieth. I’ll make some arrangements, and we’ll see where you are at the end of the month.”“All right, Willie,” said Mother.I handed Willie the drink and sat back down, nudging the bow under the settee with my foot.She took a sip and nodded. “Honestly, Louise, a seven-year-old bartender?”Mother shrugged.That was ten years ago. She never did buy me the doll.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for OUT OF THE EASY“Street-smart, literary and compassionate… Atmospheric and assured…nicely paced novel.”--Wall Street Journal“A satisfying novel, bringing to life the midcentury French Quarter…Sepetys writes with rawness and palpable emotional unease.”--New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)“A haunting peek at the life of a teenage girl in 1950s New Orleans.”--Entertainment Weekly“Like her debut title, Sepetys’s latest is full of transporting writing, drawing you into a past that is fully reconstructed by her superb imagination.”--Boston Globe"Unforgettable."--Toronto Star* "With a rich and realistic setting, a compelling and entertaining first-person narration, a colorful cast of memorable characters and an intriguing storyline, this is a surefire winner. Immensely satisfying.” --Kirkus, starred review* “[A]nother taut and charged historical novel… Sepetys has also built a stellar cast. Readers will find Josie irresistible from the get-go and will devour the sultry mix of mystery, historical detail, and romance.”--Publishers Weekly, starred review* "A Dickensian array of characters; the mystique, ambience, and language of the French Quarter; a suspenseful, action-packed story. With dramatic and contextual flair, Sepetys introduces teens to another memorable heroine."--School Library Journal, starred review“A page-turner that noir romance fans will gobble up. The legions of fans that Sepetys earned with her best-selling debut novel will all be lining up for this. --Booklist“This suspenseful novel…proves Sepetys's extraordinary versatility as a storyteller.”--Shelf Awareness"Rough-edged and glamorous by turns, this is a wild ride worth taking."--Bookpage  — Ruta Sepetys**STARRED REVIEW**  Sepetys follows her debut, Between Shades of Gray, with another taut and charged historical novel, though the setting—the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950—is a world apart from that of her previous book. Living and working in a bookshop, 17-year-old Josie Moraine dreams of attending college—anything to get away from her mother, a prostitute with Hollywood dreams and a knack for getting involved with the worst men. When Josie becomes involved in a high-profile murder investigation, she becomes even more entrenched in her circumstances. The sensual yet rigidly class-based setting is a real standout, and Sepetys has also built a stellar cast, which includes Willie, a strident but generous madam; Charlie Marlowe, the bookshop’s owner; and a pair of potential love interests for Josie. Readers will find Josie irresistible from the get-go (“The only reason I’d lift my skirt is to pull out my pistol and plug you,” she tells a guy early on) and will devour the sultry mix of mystery, historical detail, and romance.--Publishers Weekly, starred review**STARRED REVIEW**  Step right onto the rough streets of the New Orleans French Quarter, circa 1950…and meet 17-year-old Josie Moraine, a feisty young woman whose mother, a prostitute in a Conti Street brothel, offers her nothing but scorn and abuse. From the tender age of 12, Josie has made her own way in the world, working in a local bookstore in exchange for a safe place to sleep and cleaning the brothel to earn money toward her planned escape from the Big Easy. Equal parts book smart and street smart, Josie’s dream is to attend Smith College, and she will go to extremes, even blackmail, in her desperation to be accepted. But just when her plans start to gain some traction, her mother strikes again, putting Josie in the middle of a murder investigation and saddling her with a mob debt. There are some meaningful messages here: that love can come from the unlikeliest of sources—the rough-and-tumble brothel madam is much more supportive of Josie than her mother ever was—and that we are all in control of our own destinies if only we choose to be. With a rich and realistic setting, a compelling and entertaining first-person narration, a colorful cast of memorable characters and an intriguing storyline, this is a surefire winner. Immensely satisfying.--Kirkus Reviews, starred review