Monday, April 1, 2013

Out of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys

I loved this book. The first couple of sentences got me hooked. "My mother's a prostitute. Not the filthy streetwalking kind."
Josie is the daughter of a prostitute living in New Orleans in 1950.  To me this story's theme is: a person does not have to become what everyone thinks they are going to be.  Josie is a wonderful intelligent girl.  More than anything she wants to leave New Orleans behind and go to college.  Her mother, Louise, is a selfish mean woman. Josie left her when she was 12 and was sleeping in a stockroom at a book store.  Charlie, the owner, fixes up the room for her and becomes her father figure.  Her mother's madam, Willie, also takes care of Josie in her way. 
On New Year's Eve, Louise is involved in a murder.  Josie gets dragged into the investigation just by being Louise's daughter.  The story revolves around the murder and Josie's hope of getting into college in Boston.
The characters in this book are wonderful.

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
Read an excerpt here.

Pages: 346

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