Out of the Easy landed on my must-buy list because of two reasons: 1. New Orleans, since I'm actually very curious about the area, and it just sounds so fantastic there, 2. unorthodox upbringing of the lead character. All in all, this is a book that's hard to ignore with all its wonderful premises trying to reel you in.
In 1950s New Orleans, Josie grew up in an environment where a tube of lipstick is as common - and as deadly - as a gun. Whip smart and resourceful, Jo doesn't want to be confined to the Easy like her mama, a prostitute who doesn't make things easier for either of them. Willie, the brothel madam, knows that Jo can go places, and Jesse, the motorcycle-driving seemingly bad boy with the the heart of gold, knows she's better off far away from the reaches of mobsters, but the sequence of horrible events that follow aren't exactly driving her towards the future she's set her heart on.
If you ever fancy yourself wanting to go to 1950s New Orleans without leaving your house, grab this book. The atmosphere is very encompassing, and if you try hard enough, the sound of a car backfiring in your neighborhood can almost pass for gunshots. Welcome to New Orleans where there's not much as voodoo juju, but more of mobsters and strong-willed girls who know how to have fun, even at the expense of death.
I LOVED Sepetys' characters, and I feel that I couldn't stress this enough. I loved Willie's tough-as-nails attitude, even when she was showing affection towards Jo. I loved Jo's ambition, never minding the naysayers, and how she won't give up even in the face of adversary. I loved how everyone seemingly had a weapon or some sort nearby, and disturbingly (please don't lock me up), I do like how comfortable they all seemed with death. That statement might have probably offended someone, but it was quite refreshing to hear of deaths in the novel and not have them sensationalized.
Out of the Easy challenges these modern, normal nuances we have revolving around prostitutes and mobsters, and death and life, and instead of having its readers run towards the opposite direction, readers might just welcome this change of perspective.
P.S. Someone should totally create a makeup line inspired by this book. When there was a mention of any kind of cosmetics, I paid very close attention to those scenes and envisioned colors encased in classy little bullets that Jo and Willie would indulgently apply.