Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the EasyBook Title/Author: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
: Philomel Books – February 2013
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Series: NO!
Other Books From Author: Between Shades of Gray

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I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!




It’s New Orleans in the 1950’s and Josie desperately wants to get out of the Big Easy and away from the lingering black cloud of her mother’s reputation of being a prostitute at the local brothel that is run by the infamous Willie Woodley and has basically been a second home to Josie. As she works hard at the bookstore and cleaning up the brothel after nights of debauchery, she dreams and devises her plans to get out until a wealthy man, who makes an impression on Josie, is found murdered and foul play is suspected. Unable to let it go, Josie tries to figure out what happened to this man and  finds herself caught in the underbelly of the Big Easy and at risk of losing her dreams of going to college and hurting the ones she loves.

Ok. You know how much I rave about Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys but after reading Out of the Easy I can officially declare that she is one of my favorite historical fiction authors ever! I will read anything she writes. Out of the Easy, like Between Shades of Grey, had that easy and smooth transportable quality to it. I’ve never been to NOLA but Ruta so easily makes me feel like I’m ambling around the French Quarter in the 1950’s. I just love the way she is able pull back the curtain to allow me to peer into this life I’ve never experienced — whether I’m in Siberia starved to death or trying to grow up in the French Quarter with your mother’s reputation like a lingering cloud above your head.

The best thing about Out of the Easy,  obviously besides Ruta’s storytelling abilities, is the characters.  Gosh I just loved so many of them! I feel like  I haven’t read a book in a while where I felt like the majority of characters, upon closing the book, were just clamoring to get out and linger in my heart a while longer. She writes those kind of hearts-are-beating, blood-flowing-through-the-veins characters that are just so alive. And the baddies? Well they are of the blood boiling variety. You hate them with a fierce passion (her mom and Cincinnati mostly) and, I don’t know about you, but I got this intense desire to pistol whip them.  WHERE DID  THAT COME FROM? Those mobsters wore off on me apparently. I just loved Josie and her determination to get out of the French Quarter and not become like her  mother. She was noble and genuine, a little rough around the edges in all the right places, and so many things broke my heart in this story because of my complete love for her. I love Willie and her “nieces”, Cokie (oh that man!), Patrick and Charlie and sweet Jesse. Oh I just love all these characters so hard. They created this beautiful little family and I felt like I was apart of it when my heart would ache with the heartbreaking parts and soar during the heartwarming parts. My heart was basically on fire.

My only complaint was that at times the plot dawdled for me. This is definitely more of a character driven novel and I loved that but at certain points I just wasn’t really sure where the book was going and there were just a lot of threads of story there and some just seemed to sort of come undone for me — like a stray, wispy piece of hair coming out of my ponytail.  I will say that if you are looking for the emotional  gut punch of Between Shades of Grey, Out of Easy isn’t that. In Between Shades of Grey, I felt everything with intensity and felt like I learned about a heartbreaking history I never knew and I felt changed. It’s more subtle with Out of the Easy — I can’t say I really saw a piece of history that took me by surprise — but the characters and their stories just creep up on you until you find yourself choking back a surge of emotion at times.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys was a fantastic story that I’ve anticipated for a while — little bit of mystery, little bit of romance, mother-daughter issues and the struggle of a girl to reach for her dreams even if they might seem impossible. Don’t come looking for the sort of gut punching emotion you may have experienced in BSAG but be prepared to fall in love with some amazing characters and be immersed into their lives slowly but surely and emotions will make their way into your throat before you even realize your choking them back. It’s hard to talk about the plot because sometimes I felt like I was doing that stutter-step “which way are you walking” dance you do when people are walking towards you because I just felt the plot was meandering a bit but Ruta pulled it together nicely at the end to make me not care about that. And really, the characters drove this story for me.  It’s a great story and I’m so glad to have experienced it.


For Fans  Of: YA historical fiction for sure, character driven novels where you have to remind yourself that the characters are not real, a darn good story that isn’t always LOUD and action-y


Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? If you’ve read it what did you think? How much did you LOVE THE CHARACTERS?? Who was your favorite? Did anyone else feel like the plot was going in a few different directions? Curious to if you prefer BSAG or Out of the Easy? They were just two totally different experiences for me as I said above!

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Such high praise hu? I’m not into historical fiction right now… which is sad because a few years ago that was all I wanted to read. So, I totally miss out on some fanatstic books here.. Maybe I need to get over myself and pick it up anyways?

    • It definitely seemed like one of those books that feel LESS historical fictiony to me so it might be a great one for you to pick up actually! Great characters!

  2. I’m pretty excited to read this one. I really liked Between Shades of Grey, but it was a period of history I studied for my major and I couldn’t stop reading it from a historian’s perspective. I’m really looking forward to Out of the Easy since it’s a totally new setting for me and I kind of love the sound of a character driven novel.

    • Ah see for me I had never really known anything about that period of history (like I always had just heard of what was going on in Germany with Hitler) so it was such a learning experience for me! Curious, from a historian’s POV, did you feel like it was pretty accurate?

      I hope you enjoy Out of the Easy!

  3. I haven’t read anything by Ruth Sepetys, but the cover is initially what drew me to this book. Yours is the first review I’ve read (hmm.. perhaps the second) on the book and I really want it! Thanks for the great review 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, Jade! The two books are definitely different which is I hope you will enjoy both of them. BSAG is definitely a really hard book to read — very emotional. Out of the Easy was more subtly emotional to me! Let me know what you think!

  4. Wow. You make me want to pick up a historical fiction book again! It’s been a whole since I last read one and this one sounds awesome! Definitely going on the TBR list.

  5. I hadn’t heard of this one, but I adore historical fiction and this one sounds so good. I haven’t read anything by this author, but I totally should!

    • BSAG was probs my favorite out of the two because it really made me think a lot! But that isn’t to say that I didn’t love this one — just in a different way for sure. BSAG is just WOW. A gut punch! And I felt like I learned about a period of history that I didn’t realize happened (I knew more about the stuff happening in Germany). This one was more of a story than focused on “history” so to speak. If that makes sense?

  6. This is one of those books I feel like I just HAVE to read. I love it when the characters feel alive and you hate the villains with a passion. Great review!

  7. I’m always so cautouis when I go into a historic fiction YA book because I generally don’t end up liking them or find them EXTREMELY boring. But out of easy has been getting such rave reviews I’m honestly considering picking it up! I’m glad you liked this one Jamie!
    Great Review 🙂

    • It definitely feels much less like a super historical novel. Much more of a story that just happens to be set in the 1950’s! I hope you do pick it up!

  8. I’m so glad to see that you really enjoyed this one as well, Jamie!

    “I got this intense desire to pistol whip them. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?”


    I got so pulled into the story, and so protective of certain characters that I literally felt like my blood was going to boil when anything bad happened to them. I wanted them to succeed so badly. It was crazy but I guess that is what is a truly good author is capable of. Kudos Ruta Sepetys! 🙂

    • YES! I wanted to seriously hurt her mom! like she just made me rage so much!! And I just loved characters (willie and the nieces) whom I wouldn’t ever experience IRL. People who others might think of as “bad people” but we got to experience them and their hearts.

  9. Gosh I’ve been reading such great things about this one! I really need to read both of this author’s books. And I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW how much you love the first one so much so I should absolutely make it a big point to read her work. I *will* tell you this – I appreciate that you are the first blogger, I think, that has said which you liked better between the two. SO I think I will stick with my original plan to read the first book first and this one after. Yessss, I will do that. Thanks for your thoughts, lady!

    • YES you need to read them! I think BSAG was def more memorable for me and was my favorite and gut punched me so hard but this one was a great book in a different way. So different so it totally doesn’t matter which order you read them! I SOOOO can’t wait to see your thoughts!

  10. I’m about 150 pages into this one right now, and I’m loving it so far. Maybe not QUITE as much as Between Shades Of Gray, but this author does amazing things in the historical fiction genre. Great review!

    • YES! I definitely liked BSAG better and it was more memorable for me personally but this was just a great story and I’m so happy to see how much versatility Ruta has and brings to the historical fiction genre!

  11. I loved this one as well. It was very different from between Shades of Grey but equally amazing. Great review!

  12. Yes, yes, yes! The very best thing about Ruta’s books is that she makes you feel like you are freaking walking around Siberia or in towering heels in the French Quarter. She has such a great sense of place. I don’t know how she brings everything so alive, I really don’t. She’s a marvel.

    Sadly, the characters in OotE didn’t crawl into my heart like the ones from BSoG did. Maybe because I know less about the mobster-y scene? I don’t really know. I still REALLY liked it, but it was a four for me, because I didn’t FEEL it. Sad day. I feel like I’m saying that all the time. People are going to get so tired of it.

    • YES! She really just takes you THERE. I love it. One of the reasons I always recommend her books. Such great historical fiction.

      I was thinking about this one after I finished it because at first I was feeling that as well. Like I mean they WERE but not as intensely as BSAG. But, what I was thinking about, was that the reason for me that maybe BSAG characters made me feel SOOOOO MUCH is because I knew at the end of the day those were REAL people who went through those things. As much as I loved the fictional characters and they were so REAL TO ME…I knew that there were real faces and names of people who lived (or didn’t) through this. I think maybe that was part of the intensity for me and Ruta was able to bring that out of me through her great characters who channeled the spirit of the real people who faced this. Idk. That is just what I was thinking about as I lay in bed. That REAL connection changed me in a way few books can’t.

      With Out of the Easy it was more subtle. I felt sad for characters who are stuck in lives that seem impossible to get out of — in all walks of life. Because of oppression or circumstances or anything. It wasn’t quite the same emotional impact as BSAG but these characters became special to me. SADS they weren’t as strong for you but still happy you enjoyed this one very much!!

  13. I totally get what you mean about the plot lull at times. But to me it wound up all making sense, though there IS one unanswered question STILL for me and i’d love to know it. [will gchat u on that!] but these characters tore me up! I loved it! So glad you did too! Ruta = amazing.

  14. I loved the characters too. I never thought I’d actually find myself liking a brothel madam, but I found myself actually really caring about Willie.

  15. I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since I read Between Shades of Gray so I’m glad you liked it!!!

  16. I’m very much looking forward to reading this! I love the fact that it’s set in NOLA (a place that I’ve always wanted to visit and that I find utterly fascinating), and I love the fact that the characters sound like people I’m going to love, especially Josie. I haven’t read her previous novel, but consider me intrigued by it as well!

  17. I still need to read this — both you and Allison loved it. I’m looking forward to the setting because I’ve never been to NOLA but I like reading about it. Really I can’t say much more on this review because I skimmed because I want to read this soon and don’t want my review to sound like yours/be influenced. Just yay! I am excited for these good historical fiction books coming out.