ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published February 12, 2013. Philomel Books (Penguin). 348 pp.
Having read Sepetys’ wonderful book “Between Shades of Gray,” I was eager to see what “Out of the Easy” had in store. After I wiped my tears at the end, all I could say was “Wow!” Yes, it was that good.
Forced to grow up before her time, Josie was her prostitute mother’s bartender by age 10, and living on her own by age 11. Her resourcefulness enabled her to avoid her mother’s way of life and focus on one day getting a chance to go to college. Between her bookstore job and housecleaning for Willie, a Madam who cares for her like the mother she never had, Josie finds herself involved in a murder mystery.
Despite wanting to keep her distance from her mother and everything she stands for, Josie finds herself drawn into the murder of a rich tourist. Her mother and mob friends are the primary suspects, with Josie soon finding herself underwater as lies weave a web that threaten to pull her into the smoldering world of New Orleans’ seamy underbelly.
Sepetys’ historical fiction story of everyday life in 1950’s New Orleans of a Madam and her House is hard hitting and very emotional. Readers aged 14 and older will find themselves drawn into Josie’s plight, wishing for her hard luck life to take a turn for the better. Her pain becomes our pain, and her joy our joy because Sepetys has created a believable character and events that draw in readers.
2014 UPDATE: Listed on the ALA (American Library Association’s) Best Fiction for Young Adults list (compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and on YALSA’s 2014 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults list.