Summary and book reviews of Out of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Out of The Easy

By Ruta Sepetys

Out of The Easy
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2013,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2014,
    368 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Smith

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Book Summary

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.

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 ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Throughout the book, the author uses language in unexpected and original ways. Two examples include her depiction of a dejected Patrick on page 140 where she writes that his "shoulders frowned," and her description of Miss Paulsen's "taffied scalp" (p. 152). What do you think each of these phrases means? What are some other examples of imagery created by the author? Why do you believe she made these choices as an author? (Reading Standard 4)

  2. Unlike many of the people in her life, Josie is an avid reader. How does her love of reading bring her closer to certain characters and further separate her from others? Cite specific examples from the book. (Reading Standard 1)

  3. Why does ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Just like Ruta Sepetys breathed life into that pair of opera glasses, she breathes life into her characters, and their story. She is so incredibly skilled at building a bridge from the present to the past that it is impossible to not join her in that love while reading Out of the Easy; impossible not to stand by Jo's side and root for her as she gives "those ol' wings a try."   (Reviewed by Tamara Smith).

Full Review Members Only (1280 words).

Media Reviews
The Wall Street Journal

Street-smart, literary and compassionate… Atmospheric and assured…nicely paced novel.

Barnes and Noble

In this stunning standalone follow-up to her debut Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys spins another believable tale.

The New York Times

Sepetys writes with rawness and palpable unease...the stakes are momentous.

Booklist

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.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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. Ages 14–up.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. 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.

Reader Reviews
Becky H

OUT OF THE EASY by Ruta Sepetys
OUT OF THE EASY tells the tale of Josie Moraine, the 17 year old daughter of a prostitute in 1950’s New Orleans. Sepetys gives a clear picture of the brothels, gangsters, and night life of the city while showing the life of a teen who is willing to ...   Read More

Diane S.

Out of the Easy
The strength in Sepetys language is in her character development and that her characters are for the most part extremely likable. The French Quarter in the 1950,s and a story based on an actual madame, in fact the house she actually lived in is part ...   Read More

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Norma Wallace, New Orleans' Last Madam

In an interview about her new book, Out of the Easy, Ruta Sepetys describes finding a different book, one that blew her away. She was out in the rain once and had ducked into a bookstore to keep from getting wet, when she saw the book The Last Madam: Life in the New Orleans Underworld by Christine Wiltz. She bought and read the book in one sitting. "The Last Madam" was Norma Wallace, a powerful madam who ran a brothel in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Sepetys was mesmerized. Years later, she was able to go to Wiltz's house, spend the day with her, and learn all about the New Orleans underworld that was home to Norma Wallace. She said she couldn't have written Out of the Easy without this book or Wiltz. Willie Woodley, the madam who ...

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