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  • Writer's pictureBrandi Prater

Out of the Easy

Updated: Nov 2, 2022


Sepetys, R. (2014b). Out of the Easy (Reprint). Philomel Books. ISBN:9780147508430


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. The daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan to get out, but a mysterious death 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 quest for the truth.


This novel uncovers the underworld New Orleans in the 1950s. Josie’s mother, a brothel prostitute, does what she always does and drags Josie into her drama. As a result, she is drawn into a murder investigation and the underworld of threats, violence, and retribution. This novel is a suspenseful, action-packed story; but it’s also a coming-of-age story that follows Josie as she realizes personal decisions ultimately shape a person’s future.

The high-profile murder investigation, intriguing characters, and the possibility of a bad-boy romance with a “quietly mysterious” biker named Jesse will keep readers entrenched from the very beginning. The setting is believable, but it is created more by name-checking geography than by developing an actual sense of New Orleans and its culture. While these name drops crowd the novel and give a surface level overview of the city may work for most readers, anyone familiar with the character of New Orleans will clamor for more authentic details.

This YA novel which includes murder, madams, the mob, and the possibility of hooking up with a wealthy john to fund Josie’s college tuition. Due to the content, this book is better suited for older students. Nevertheless, it is a page-turner and the allure of reading about the forbidden and unknown will appeal to many young adult and adult readers alike in search of a little escapism.


Step right onto the rough streets of the New Orleans French Quarter, circa 1950... ...and meet 17-year-old Josie Moraine, a feisty young woman whose mother, a prostitute in a Conti Street brothel, offers her nothing but scorn and abuse. From the tender age of 12, Josie has made her own way in the world, working in a local bookstore in exchange for a safe place to sleep and cleaning the brothel to earn money toward her planned escape from the Big Easy. Equal parts book smart and street smart, Josie's dream is to attend Smith College, and she will go to extremes, even blackmail, in her desperation to be accepted. But just when her plans start to gain some traction, her mother strikes again, putting Josie in the middle of a murder investigation and saddling her with a mob debt.

Kirkus Reviews starred (January 15, 2013)


· Kirkus Reviews, Starred, 2013

· Publishers Weekly, Starred, 2013

· School Library Journal, Starred, 2013


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