Out of the Easy

by Ruta Sepetys

Josie has lived in the French Quarter of New Orleans since she was seven and her... read more

Josie has lived in the French Quarter of New Orleans since she was seven and her mother returned to the city to work for Willie Woodley, a madam running a house of prostitution. Now seventeen, Josie dreams of heading off to college in the North. If her mother has been extraordinarily selfish and unreliable through the years, Josie is fortunate that other adults have not, from Willie-who has been a steadfast if prickly source of love and support-to Willie's assistant Cokie to local bookseller and writer Charles Marlowe, whose son Patrick is her best friend. Josie's self-absorbed mother announces she's heading to Hollywood with her criminal boyfriend, Cincinnati, just after Josie learns the kind tourist who stopped by the shop the day before has been found dead at a local nightclub. One of Josie's jobs is cleaning each morning at Willie's, and in her mother's room she finds a watch inscribed to the dead man. She gets caught up in the man's death even as she tries to help Patrick preserve his father's dignity (Charlie is suffering from dementia) and tries to map her own future. With her sights set on going to Smith, Josie must decide how much of herself she is willing to compromise in pursuit of her dreams. Ruta Sepetys's novel set in 1950 New Orleans not only captures that time and place with literary distinction, but is populated with wonderfully realized characters in a story that is at once gritty and full of hope. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2014

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