After reading Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, I couldn’t wait until her next novel, Out of the Easy, came out. Check out my review of Between Shades of Gray at the end of this post.
Josie is the daughter of Louise- a semi-upscale prostitute. In 1940, when Josie was seven, her and her mother moved from Detroit to New Orleans. Willie Woodley, owner of a brothel, re-employed Louise and became a quasi godmother to Josie. Fast forward ten years, and Josie has graduated from high school, and is gainfully employed as a maid at Willie’s house and as a clerk at Marlowe’s Bookshop. Josie dreams of leaving New Orleans and her selfish mother, finding her father, & attending SmithCollege; but she soon finds out how improbable these dreams are. Josie’s current situation is tough to say the least, but her days darken after her mother’s abusive, mobster “boyfriend” nicknamed Cincinnatti comes to town, a wealthy man named Forrest Hearne is murdered soon after leaving the bookshop, and Charlie Marlowe’s health deteriorates. (Charlie is like a father to Josie). Will Josie ever make her way Out of the Easy?
I absolutely adore this novel for so many reasons. For one, the characters are so colorful and distinct. I immediately rooted for Josie- a girl both street and book smart, despised her cruel mother, was intrigued by the tough but compassionate Willie, educated, charming Patrick and rebellious, sweet Jesse- the two men who vie for Josie’s attention….
For another, the writing is gorgeous. For example: “I’d never have a chance to be normal. Willie said normal was boring and that I should be grateful that I had a touch of spice. She said no one cared about boring people, and when they died they were forgotten, like something that slips behind the dresser. Sometimes I wanted to slip behind the dresser. Being normal sounded perfectly wonderful.”
Out of the Easy is the kind of novel I dream about writing one day & is easily one of the best novels that I’ve read this year.
Between Shades of Gray Review: