Out of the Easy begins with seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine’s stark opening line: “My mother’s a prostitute.” From the very first sentence, author Ruta Sepetys sucks the reader into the world of 1950s New Orleans, a place rife with scandal and mystique. Desperate to escape the stigma of her mother’s reputation, Josie dreams of leaving New Orleans by attending college far from the South.
Everyone in the novel has something to conceal—the wealthy Mr. Lockwell hides his trips to the French Quarter from his wife; Josie’s friend Patrick hides his aging father’s memory loss from the authorities; Josie hides a pistol under her skirt. The inexplicable death of a wealthy Memphis businessman in the French Quarter only adds to Josie’s list of secrets, especially when she suspects her mother’s involvement.
Ruta Sepetys writes flawlessly, revealing striking historical details through Josie’s observant eye. As historical fiction, Out of the Easy is painstakingly researched and powerfully told. Do I need to say more?