Thank you to Penguin Canada for inviting me to be a part of the Out of the Easy blog tour :)
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.
My Expectations: Guys, I don't think I can express my love for the author's first YA books, Between Shades of Gray. Seriously high expectations for this one.
Delivery: Didn't really meet my expectations, but the high points were high.
First and foremost: I love Josie. There are a very limited number of characters I absolutely adore, I mean even some characters from my favourite books I just think are wonderfully written but I don’t love them. I loved Josie. She’s the perfect blend of smart, experienced, desperate, capable, and sympathetic, and a few chapters in I had to know what would happen to her. I was hooked on reading because I wanted to make sure she’d make it through okay. (Think the equally kick-ass Elliot North from For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund).
Secondly, Ruta Sepetys writes absolutely beautifully. Her words weave a gorgeous, realistic world on the page and in my mind, I love her description of New Orleans in the 1950’s, everything from The Big Easy to the bookshop to Cokie’s car just came alive. Her dialogue was fantastic as well.
However, it pains me to say, that I had more than a few issues with this book—especially because I wanted desperately to love it after Between Shades of Gray. I feel the first two-thirds of the novel were especially strong, keeping me psyched for a grand finale but it was as if the carefully plotted, intricately detailed house of cards Sepetys created just…collapsed. What happened? I’m still shaking my head over it; after a beautiful, delicious mystery was set up, it just, like, deflated. Random “emergencies” were pulled out of thin air, character deaths seemed to be used solely as a plot point, a romance I’m very unimpressed with… it was a mess. The mystery was resolved in an unsatisfyingly manner and loose ends were tied up hastily.
That all sounds quite harsh, but it might be because I’m still reeling from disappointment; Out of the Easy could have been so much better. Does anyone remember A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly? The stories are kind of similar, except that ending felt earned. This one did not.
The rest of the characters were hit-or-miss, I found the lack of redeeming qualities in Josie’s mother made her too one-dimensional, the love interests (damn you, love triangle) both lacked depth. On the other hand, I somehow ended up loving all the ladies of The Big Easy; Willie’s mix of evil stepmother/fairly godmother, Dora’s fascination with green, Sweety, Sadie, and well, maybe not that witch Evangeline. Also, Cokie was the best.
Ultimately, if Out of the Easy were a game of Texas Hold’em, you’ve got suited connectors in the hole, and the flop and turn have you drawing towards a straight flush. You’ve committed a ton of chips into the pot and well… the river kills ya. Nada.
Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable
Recommended for: fans of the author, historical fiction fans
8/10 – because the qualities of the book that I loved are unbelievably well done—mainly the writing and Josie. Sepetys creates a setting that comes alive and writes a memorable, lovable heroine for readers to get behind. It starts of slow but delectable, builds up, but unfortunately, fails to deliver as I found the plot to ultimately be kind of a mess. I wish I had felt another way about this book; however, I’ll still be heavily recommending this read because I don’t think anyone should miss out on this novel. There are plenty of literary references and bookstore appreaciation that book lovers will adore :)
Out of the Easy will be released February 12, 2013!!
source: publisher sent a copy for review
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