By Ruta Sepetys
This book is so good, you guys! You know when you read a string of pretty good books, and you’re happy enough with them, but then you read a really good book and all of a sudden those other books really pale in comparison? That’s how I feel right now: I don’t redact anything I said about Girl of Nightmares and Being Henry David, but I maybe don’t recommend them quite so highly anymore. I definitely recommend Out of the Easy, though.
It starts out fairly light but very engaging, introducing Josie, the daughter of a prostitute in 1950s New Orleans trying to escape the lifestyle she was born into. A wealthy man that she meets in the bookstore she helps run is found dead later than night, and the book is ostensibly about the investigation into the suspicious circumstances. As the book progresses, though, the mystery takes the backseat while it focuses more on Josie’s desperate attempts to improve her circumstances. This is not a criticism at all, though, because Josie, the world around her, the people in her life (including madams, prostitutes, johns, and gangsters) are fascinating, and her struggles are heartbreaking and gripping.