Out of the Easy
Ruta Sepetys




Josie Moraine wants out of The Big Easy - she needs more than New Orleans can offer. Known locally as a brothel prostitute's daughter, she dreams of life at an elite college, far away from here. But then a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie caught between her ambition and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans is luring Josie deeper in as she searches for the truth, and temptation beckons at every turn.

"Beautifully written and deeply felt." Booklist

"Sepetys' flowing prose gently carries readers through the crushing tragedy of this tale that needs telling." Kirkus Reviews

"A harrowing page turner." Publishers Weekly

"A gripping story." School Library Journal
Aaron, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Set in the 1950s, Ruta Sepetys’ Out of the Easy is a story about the daughter of a brothel worker who lives in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The main character of the novel, Josie Moraine, daughter of Louise Moraine, works in a local bookstore and has huge aspirations that she cannot live up to in the ‘Big Easy’. She has to find a way out. Upon her journey she encounters many obstacles and has to keep a clear head in order to get into Smith College and live up to the academic standards that she, and other characters, have set. This book has a snake of plot line; filled with twists and turns to keep the reader on his/her toes and sudden changes which will leave the reader startled and amazed. Out of the Easy is not a book that I would typically read, but I found it extremely interesting and would recommend it to anyone who wants to step out of the confines of their regular reading agenda and try something exciting and new.

Amira, from Wren Academy Barnet

Out of the Easy is set in 1950s New Orleans and revolves around the daughter of a local prostitute: Josie Moraine.  Josie works as a housemaid in a brothel, but is desperate to leave New Orleans and go to college. 

I really enjoyed this book, and found all the characters to be very realistic and their actions believable - even the main characters have their flaws, but they are likeable all the same! I especially liked Willie, and found her to be a very three-dimensional character.  The story had me gripped the whole time, and I liked how there was a murder-mystery aspect to the plot. 

Overall Out of the Easy is a very good book that I would definitely recommend! 

Ariela, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Set in the 1950s in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Out of the Easy is a book that simmers with secrets. Seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her mind, her heart, and her darkest fears. Caught between the dream of an elite college and the abhorrent underworld, Josie must choose between who she is now and who she longs to become.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a page turner and I couldn’t stop reading until the end. Sometimes at the beginning it dragged a bit but overall it was a new genre of book to read for me and the plot was unique, engaging and had lots of plot holes. I recommend this book for anyone above the age of 11 because of some inappropriate concepts.

I give this book a 4.5/5 stars, a must read!

Arthur, from Wren Academy Barnet

Out of the Easy is a book about a girl of about 17 years who wishes to leave the French quarter of New Orleans. Josie Moraine is known locally as a brothel prostitute’s daughter. At the prompt of her newly found friend Charlotte she applies for Smith College. At this time her mother leaves town with a criminal called Cincinnati and a man who she spoke to her in her bookshop is murdered. 

Out of the Easy is an amazing choice and a highly recommended read. I have already recommended this book to multiple people and would advise whoever is reading this to have a read of it as well. Ruta Sepetys uses a multitude of techniques to make the reader laugh, cry and become furious. The book had me laughing one minute then the within the next five I was fuming at what the characters had done.

Overall this book is an amazing read and I highly recommend it to everyone.

Bea, from Wren Academy Barnet

Ruta Sepetys' Out Of The Easy is one of the most interesting and surprising novels I've read in the recent past. It's a historical novel, based around the life of Josie Moraine, the daughter of a prostitute in 1950s New Orleans and the incredible strength of her attempt to somehow pull herself out of the way of life she was born into in favour of college on the East coast - somewhere where she could begin her own life without the ties of her upbringing, and fall deeper into her love of literature. But her struggle is not easy. It is, in fact, immense and challenging. So challenging indeed, that she almost falls head first into the life she has tried so desperately to escape. And, if only to make everything more scary for Josie, she is dragged into a mystery close to home.

One of the most captivating and, in my opinion, brilliant aspects of this novel is the presentation of the prostitutes. Despite the truths of life in prostitution being told by someone who, whilst having a life entirely based in prostitution, is not a prostitute, the prostitutes are for the most part presented as some of the happiest and most life-loving characters in the book. I find this portrayal both fascinating and intriguing because it is a very rare way of portraying people who were then and are now seen as right at the bottom of society. Prostitutes, when they are presented as good people at all, are usually presented as violent and unsavoury characters who hate their lives and those around them. But Supetys consciously chooses not to do this, and to give life to those often given a two dimensional character.

I enjoyed Out of the Easy because of its unusual take on a fairly typical topic, and the complex presentation of every character. They all have their flaws and their perfections. The storyline of the novel is not among the most original I've seen, but for me the successes of this novel far outweigh its shortcomings. 

Ben, from University College School London

Out of the Easy is novel by the New York Times bestselling author Ruta Sepetys, who also wrote Between Shades of Grey. It is about a young adult named Josie Moraine, who is known as a brothel prostitutes daughter (explained well in the first sentence ‘My mother’s a prostitute.’). She dreams of studying at an elite college, and she works in a bookstore. All of a sudden, a tourist is murdered in New Orleans (where she lives) and Josie is pulled into a mystery.

I thought the book was a gripping read and always left you wanting to find out what happened to Josie and her friends. The characters were very well described, and the story itself was very good. My favourite character was Patrick. I liked him because of the way that he did anything to look after his father, and also that he liked books (a bit like me!).

Overall I thought the book was one of the best books I have read. It was exciting, gripping, and just about brilliant overall. I would certainly recommend this book to just about anyone who is at least 11 years old (but not younger because of some strong language!).

Benji, from University College School London

If I have learnt one thing after reading Out of the Easy it is that even dark subject matters can be fun and funny. I was expecting to be depressed at the end of every sentence. But I was actually enjoying the deep, interesting characters, and surprising sense of humour. 

The characters all have something wrong in their lives, or they are flawed. This makes the characters a lot more relatable and interesting. Each character’s personality is made clear in their first sentence. But it never feels that they are over the top to show their unique personality.

I found a common theme in most of the chapters. At the beginning a new sense of hope is created, but by the end the hope is knocked down like dominoes by the main plot. Most chapters end with a great emotional punch. Despite the fact that, a few chapters in, I worked out this pattern, Sepetys still worked out a way to shock me every time with the emotional punches. This worked as I was always drawn into the more pleasant scenes.

Personally my favourite moments were when the characters were rambling about books and other stuff people chat about. The moments work as I am interested in all the characters and the dialogue feels natural. It never feels like the characters are shouting exposition. Sepetys always knows when to add in a character moment when necessary to make the characters feel more real. 

Something small in the book, but very effective was the short sentences Sepetys writes. They are usually monosyllabic with about three words. They make the plot point clear and defined whilst making it more emotional. For example, “He was dead.” It is simple, advances the plot and the fact that that sentence was at the end of the chapter makes it sit with you for longer.

Overall I highly recommend this book for how much fun it is, the characters and the way the dark subject matter is handled. 

Binu, from Queen Elizabeth's Boys School, Barnet

“Josie Moraine wants out of the Big Easy - she needs more then New Orleans can offer. Known locally as a brothel prostitute’s daughter, she dreams of life at an elite college, far away from here. But then a mysterious death in the quarter leaves Josie caught between her ambition and clandestine underworld....” After reading the first few lines of blurb, I wasn't exactly convinced that this book would be a good read because personally, I thought that it would be quite childish and predictable. I guess that that just goes to show that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover....

Being a prostitute’s daughter, life has always been challenging for Josie. At 17 years old, Josie works part time in a bookshop with her best friend, Patrick, and part time as a cleaner in the brothel that her mum works in. She is also a gifted Martini maker. But Josie wants more than the confines of New Orleans can offer; she needs to go to college, and she needs to go there soon. The brothel madame, Willy, agrees to pay for any college, as long as it is in New Orleans. But Josie yearns for more, and when Josie meets Charlotte, a girl who attends her dream college, she is determined to do whatever it takes to get a place at Smith.

When Forrest Hearne allegedly dies of a heart attack, Josie has her suspicions. Hearne was a healthy man the day before his death when he came in the day before to purchase a book. But when she finds his watch under the bed of her mother while cleaning the brothel, she is caught between her ambition of wanting to go to college and finding out what really happened to Forrest Hearne. 

A series of separate but related plot lines are fantastically intertwined to make for a great story. I was compelled to keep reading because the stories all flowed into each other, and one part of one of the storylines becomes fully relevant in another strand of the plot later on, eventually amalgamating into a touching and unexpected finale. Will Josie get a recommendation for Smith? Will she get a place? Will she find out who killed Forrest Hearne? What will happen to Patrick’s father? All is explained in this compelling and intricate novel.

Sepetys has done a truly beautiful job with Out of the Easy, which had me fully engrossed and captivated within the first few pages. With her unique writing style and unusual expressions (“his shoulders frowned” comes to mind), the book deserves nothing less than a fantastic UNPUTDOWNABILITY rating of 5 out of 5 stars.

Charlie, from University College School London

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys is a book about a girl named Josie Moraine. The book is set in New Orleans in the 1950s. Josie’s mother is a prostitute so Josie is forced to work part time cleaning up the brothel. Throughout the book, her mothers job gets Josie into scrapes with mob bosses and debts with some of her mother’s clientele. However Josie really has a love of literature and wants to pursue it when she goes to college. Josie also works in a bookshop and she desperately wants to go to college but she does not have enough money. Also she has grown very close to her boss’s son Patrick. In summary, the book is about Josie’s struggle to get out of New Orleans.

The book’s setting is believable, and while Ruta leaves out some of the more gory parts and does not go into the detail about the racial prejudice of the time, it is still a setting that these fictional characters could have inhabited. Also Sepetys makes use of the slang names of the areas in the city such as ‘the easy’ and ‘the quarter’. While, at first, it is hard to understand what the author means, it is a very useful tool to really make you believe that the girl Josie really wrote the book.

The characters are not as good as they could be. They all seem to be fairly passive but in reality in those times they would have been aggressive. A good example of this is Willy the head of the whore house. She does swear and shout but never physically beats Josie which could have been a more realistic assumption. The only character that is extremely accurate is Josie’s mother. She beats and pinches Josie when she does something wrong and in those times that would have actually happened.

In conclusion, I think that Out of the Easy is a good book. It is quite realistic and once you start reading it is quite hard to stop. It has a plot full of twists and it can surprise you very much. I recommend this book for anyone over eleven because if you were too young you might not understand it. I would really recommend this book to read.

Charlotte, from Jewish Community Secondary School

I was not going to read this book because the subject matter was very mature; however I am so pleased that I did because it is amazing.

“My mother’s a prostitute.  Not the filthy, streetwalking kind.” is how the book begins.  Set in the 1950s, in the French quarter of New Orleans, Josie aka Jo is the daughter of a prostitute.  Her mother falls for an evil criminal called Cincinnati and abandons Jo at a friend’s house where she is made to clean. Jo also looks after an old man called Charlie and helps run his book shop with Patrick, his son.  All Jo wants to do is to leave New Orleans and go to college.  Sixteen-year-old Jo has a crush on a boy called Jesse who is building a Mercedes and works at a garage.  

There are lots of intertwining plots in this book so the reader is always drawn in.  The characters are all human, with many flaws. I don’t want to give too much away, but this book is about love, friendship, hope, death and lies.  

I rate Out of the Easy a healthy 9.75 out of 10 as it is a gripping tale from beginning to end but I would suggest that the reader is over the age of 12.

Dana, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Out of the Easy is a complicated novel about Josie Moraine, a young innocent girl, daughter of a prostitute. In this book, Josie faces a lot of problems, in her home town of New Orleans, such as her mother taking Cincinnati, a worker for Carlos Marcello, a Mafia boss, as her boyfriend. 

One day, a man came into her shop she ran with Patrick, her very close friend. This man, also known as Forrest Hearne, seemed very nice and healthy, but a few hours later, Josie received terrible news, that made her, and everyone else, extremely shocked. Josie started to get very curious, as her mum was one of the suspects for what seemed to be a murder. As well as all that, Josie also wanted to apply to Smith, a very good university in Northampton. This proves to be extremely difficult, as she had no references, or had done any extra-curricular activities. How will Josie juggle her life, and her problems? That's for you to find out. 

I think Out of the Easy is a very mysterious and puzzling book, and gets you to think, and try to fit bits of the story together. It is definitely not a book I would read normally, and was quite a challenging story to read and understand. This novel would be suitable for children above the age of 11, and also for adults. It would also be suitable for both genders, and I would rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Debbie, from Wren Academy Barnet

I felt this book took me on a roller coaster ride. It had moments that made me uninterested but others that caught my attention. The book showed the readers the lives of the characters, and how it was all a mess: prostitutes, murder, and theft. It made me realize (whilst reading) that these things do happen in the real world, not just in New Orleans, and it made me more sympathetic towards the main character who is Josephine (or Josie) Morlaine. It was confusing at first, because the characters weren’t clear. I couldn’t tell who played what role in the book and what relation they had to Josie. However, Sepetys had used words to create a contrast of diverse personalities: Willie was like a marshmallow covered with steel, Patrick was the helpful one, Cincinatti was the one who caused chaos, etc. 

I personally think the story plot wasn’t as interesting, because it was a girl trying to get out of the chaotic place she lives in and applies to go to a top class college, where she can stay away from her troublesome mother. Drama unveils and makes life harder when Josie finds things don’t go as planned. It didn’t make it as gripping because it was quite a common storyline. What made me interested in the end was the plot twist and the author slowly revealed answers. 

This roller coaster book made me say to myself  ‘so this is how it ends’ and the book, in my opinion, was like no other I have read so I recommend this to people who like danger, chaos and tornadoes because the book may make it unforgettable for them. 

Emma, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Out of the Easy is a unique novel with an interesting plot and some unusual characters. I liked this book because it was different to any other book I have read before. 

The book is about a girl called Josie who is a prostitute’s daughter and is known as one to all the people around her. However Josie isn’t happy, she wants a better life, a normal mother, a father, and above all she wants to go to college. Josie works so hard to try and live her dream, but will all her work pay off?

My favourite part of the book is the end because it’s extremely sad and unexpected. The characters in this book are all described in a very strong way, through speech and other techniques, therefore you get to know all of them, and understand how they are feeling throughout the book. This builds a connection between the reader and the characters, and enables you to enjoy the book even more.

Fred, from University College School London

Out Of The Easy is a great book and has a very simple plot ‘a girl wants to leave New Orleans’ but it has many different complex add-ons and difficulties she has to overcome. So the plot turns out to be ‘Josie wants to be like normal girls and go to college but there is one thing holding her down; her mum is a prostitute and she has to clean her brothel every morning. Even with all the other girls bullying her she gets great grades and hopes one day to go to a college in the East. But when a rich man dies mysteriously and Josie finds his expensive watch under her mother’s bed she is intrigued to find out more. Her mum is the prime suspect as she vanishes with the number one criminal. Can Josie outweigh the odds and find a better life out in the East?’

I didn’t like Out Of The Easy for many reasons the first being that I don’t like books that are sad and a bit like a personal diary I enjoy books that are action-packed and fast paced. My favourites all have teenagers my age as the main character. Another reason I didn’t enjoy this book is that I found that I never connected with characters so I could really feel for them so instead of feeling sorry or sad for the characters I was racking my brain to find out who the character actually was. I enjoyed parts of it and was very happy when I found out that there was a happy ending which I won’t say as it would ruin the book. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys sad and empathetic books that make you realise how lucky you are not to be in her circumstance.

Guy, from University College School London

Out of the Easy is an outstanding book based on story of the daughter of a prostitute. Her mother, a prostitute at a local brothel in New Orleans, is a very selfish women that will do anything for money, even if it means stealing from her own child. Her name is Louise and her age is unmentioned but she is the oldest prostitute in the brothel. Louise eventually runs away to California with her ex-criminal dream man, Cincinnati (in fact the only reason she likes him is because he is filthy rich and that he is macho and dangerous) who is supposedly working for Carlos Marcello a mafiosi. After running away with Cincinnati she is arrested and brought back on trial for murder.

Willy is the owner and boss of the brothel. She has grown to love Josie and acts like her mother, especially when Louise runs off to Hollywood. Josie works for Willy as a cleaner in the brothel and every morning her job is to look for anything the prostitutes might be hiding in their rooms. Willy also loves the coffee that Josie makes for her morning wake-up tray. Willy can pull strings with everyone in New Orleans otherwise known as the Big Easy (the reason for the book's title), however, she is a very 'private person' so she keeps most of her life hidden.

Sadie is the cleaner and caretaker of the brothel. Although she never spoke a word she is one of the main characters of the book. Sadie was the name that Willy gave her because she reminder her of a old horse she once met. Ruta Sepetys never tells us much about Sadie apart from that she is lame and that she helps Josie in her dream of going to Smith College.

Josie is the main character of this wonderful book and Sepetys tells us all about her hair raising adventures in New Orleans but also how she always intended to leave the Big Easy to attend an elite College in Northampton. The whole storyline hangs on the question as to whether she will be accepted. Josie has applied for Smith College and all her friends believe she can make it but it is very expensive. Josie is a very loyal girl who only wishes to do the best. Yet, when there is a mysterious death in the Easy and her mother flees with a criminal the reader wonders whether she will stay calm or collapse under the pressure and be able to fulfil her dream. Read this book to find out.

I believe that you should immediately go out and buy this marvellous book. It fits all genres (thriller, suspense, action and an element of comedy) and has only recently been published. I RATE THIS BOOK 9.5/10, because it was incredible but I believe that no book is perfect so it cannot have my final half point.

Hannah, from Wren Academy Barnet

Out of the Easy is a fantastic novel written by Ruta Sepetys. It is written in the point of view of Josie Moraine – a young girl who wants nothing more than to get out of New Orleans and the Quarter where she is known only as the daughter of a brothel prostitute. 

It is set in the 1950s and is mainly about Josie and her struggles to leave the French Quarter or the ‘Big Easy’. She works - and lives - in a book shop with her best friend Patrick. Life’s not easy for Patrick either. His father is desperately ill, and he and Josie take turns looking after him. Josie also works at the same house as her mother. But not in that way! She cleans the house every morning, and has become quite close with some of the people there, especially the head of the house - Willie, and the driver - Cokie. Josie however has bigger, better things planned for herself, and she has the potential for them. After a rich, professional man comes into the book shop, and assumes Josie is at college, she wants more than ever to go.

That night, Josie is shocked to find out that the same man from earlier had died. Also her mother runs off with a criminal. Things aren’t going great for Josie, but still she sets out to find out the real story about the man, and to get into a college. So when Charlotte - a young girl from Uptown - comes into the shop and advises Josie to attend the prestigious college – Smith, Josie thinks about what she said and decides to go for it. She applies for Smith, and even manages to get herself a letter of recommendation from Charlotte’s uncle. Josie is surprised, and also in danger when her mother returns to New Orleans is blamed for the murder of the lovely rich man from the shop. Throughout the whole book, Josie is dealing with secrets, tons of them, but she just adds one more when she is blackmailed and has to pay her mother’s debt. It turns out that Willie knows this already, but what she doesn’t know is that Josie was burgled by her mother! And when she is told this by Josie it is too much for her, and she collapses and soon after, dies. 

The antagonist was Josie, but I think Patrick, Willie, Cokie and Jesse also played big parts in the book, and in Josie’s journey out of New Orleans. My favourite character was Cokie because he was nice and funny, and also was so kind and caring towards Josie and even gave her loads of money to help her do what she wants, and go to college. Even though that didn’t work out, he still helped her and looked out for her which I thought was lovely.

Even though Out of the Easy was quite a dark tale, in managed to fit in tons of emotion and it allowed you to create connections with the characters, and empathise with them, especially Josie. It was also full of action! It had murder, blackmail, suspense and secrets packed in together. It was amazing! I just couldn’t stop turning the pages! It taught me about America’s background and history and even though it was quite mature, I really enjoyed reading it. I loved the ending of the book…

Harleigh, from Wren Academy Barnet

I think that the main character faces many difficult problems. These problems may lead to her becoming someone she doesn’t want to. I felt sorry for the character whilst reading this book because her life was very difficult and her mother was quite an evil character. I would recommend this book to older teenagers as some themes throughout the book are not appropriate for younger readers.

Jacob, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Out of the Easy is a book written by Rita Sepetys, it is set in New Orleans and the main character is the daughter of a prostitute. Josie (the daughter) is very clever and is seventeen years of age. The book starts when Josie's mum is just entering New Orleans and she seeks refuge in a brothel from a woman called Willie. The book then skips ten years and Josie wants to go to college but as her mum has now run away Willie (the brothel owner) won't allow her to go. There is a deadline of March the 1st. Can she get into college, or will it be too late?

I like this book because it is about a love for education so strong that the person is ready to walk a lot of miles just to get a good education. It is also has a murder mystery entwined in the tale which I find really clever and it adds something to the story. The problem is that the author launched very quickly into the story so you had no idea what had happened before the story began. 

My opinion is that this is a must read for anyone over the age of 11 and is another good book from the author of Between Shades of Grey. I recommend this book for 11+ children.

Joanna, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Out of the Easy is about a girl called Josie Moraine, a daughter of a prostitute. Her life changes when a mysterious murder in New Orleans leaves Josie in a state and her future uncertain.

I thoroughly enjoyed Out of the Easy, it is definitely not a book I would pick of the shelves. I read it during form and when the bell rang I couldn’t wait to be able to read it again! It’s very enticing. The saddest part was when Willie died, it was so unexpected! The beginning was very confusing and took me a while to really get into it, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down and everything that I couldn’t understand at the beginning made so much sense! I would recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t mind crying, suspense and drama!  

Joe, from University College School London

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It is gripping and eventful. It starts with a brothel prostitute’s daughter Josie Moraine as she and her mother go to Willie Woodley for a place to live. They were immediately refused to live there until Josie had grown up. They were given a place to stay in a small apartment not far away.

Now seventeen Josie wants more than what life can give her in New Orleans. She desperately wants to leave but mysterious death of football player Forest Hearne leaves her tangled in a murder investigation. Meanwhile her mother is set to leave for California with a criminal and tells Josie not to tell anyone… her mother is gone by morning. Things don't look any better after Josie finds an expensive watch belonging to Forest Hearne under her mother's bed at the brothel where Josie cleans every morning.  Worse still, Josie has kept the cheque Hearne had given her to pay for his books. Josie is then overcome with fear and immediately hides the watch inside one of the display books of the bookstore where she works. Out of the Easy is full of plot twist which all lead up to one final mystery.

My favourite part of the book is when Cincinnati (Josie’s mom’s boyfriend) and Josie’s mom break into Josie’s house because it is a really bizarre thing for a mother to break into her child’s house and that’s one of the reasons why I liked the book because it had loads of things that could, but you wouldn’t think to, happen in real life…

I would recommend the book to anyone 12 or over because it is one of my favourite books and I would like more people to read it.

Josh, from University College School London

Out of the Easy is a recent book exploring the hardship of an 18-year-old girl, Josie Moraine, living in the Quarter; the rough dangerous underworld of New Orleans or the “Big Easy”. As the blurb timidly yet effectively describes, the young woman is known locally as a brothel prostitute’s daughter. However, Josie wants out of New Orleans; this dream is further inspired after she meets the wealthy Forrest Hearne.

Josie Moraine’s story is such a heart-warming and exceptional tale. Josie’s desire is to detach from her awful society and attend an exclusive college. Her will power, her drive is so strong. Yet, her ambition is sidelined when a suspicious murder arises and a familiar figure is a suspect….

This complicated book is beautifully written. The contrast concerning the upper and the lower class of New Orleans is explored in such detail. Right at the beginning of this story, (which is written in first person by the main character herself), it is clear how impoverished this mother and her daughter Josie are. Sepetys makes sure to include Josie’s personal details in the story. From the very first chapter, I found empathy towards Josie Moraine. In a complete paradox, her mother, Louise Moraine, is a cold-hearted witch of a person. Her complete lust for jewellery and money spirals out of proportion in this epic tale; this character created brilliant diversity in the book and I found her individual story very interesting to read. Willie, the owner of the brothel house seems a stern woman. However, this character is a great warm-hearted person. Her emotion and love towards Josie is of a strange yet deep meaning. All the characters in this carefully strung book are perfected. Minute details are included that bring the story to life even further.

I personally enjoyed having Josie give her views on the characters. It added an element of naturalism to the story; it made the reader able to experience her feelings and thoughts broadly on each event in her life.

The sense of brutality and danger is brilliantly shown in this master class. Each aspect of the struggle in Josie’s life is explored deeply and without fault. The frightening idea of murder and crime, so confined in a town, is so incredible to read. Each different perspective of life in the Quarter is so widely explained, the danger, the fear and the anger.

This is a sensational book to read. It is so inspirational and tells a story of fierce hope in life. Josie Moraine is such a brilliant character. In this book, I empathised with the main character. You rooted for her to succeed and the sub-plots are exquisitely produced and squeezed into the story. Although this is a 350-page book, I was hooked constantly to Josie’s journey to leave New Orleans. This was an incredible read. I thoroughly enjoyed Out of the Easy: a classic in the making.


Lara, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Out of the Easy is about a girl called Josie. As she turns eighteen and is considered an adult woman she starts to consider what she wants to do with her life. She dreams about drifting away from her current life in the lower class mid-twentieth century era, away from her mum, away from the evil Cincinnati, away from Willie and away from the Bordello where her mum used to work. Josie starts writing out her life in the hope that lower class and upper class will soon be equal.

Although I enjoyed Out of The Easy and it wasn’t a hard read I don’t consider it age appropriate because of the content. I also thought it was a pretty slow book. Moving on, for me what made the book was the characters. They held a strong and realistic vision especially Josie, Charlie and Patrick.  My favourite characters were Willie, Cokie and Sadie. Willie is strong and heartfelt, Cokie generous though he doesn’t have much and Sadie quietly generous and helpful. I recommend this book for anyone aged 13-17.

Leon, from University College School London

Out of the Easy is a book about a 17-year-old girl named Josie who wants to get out of New Orleans (the Big Easy) and go to College. Her mother works as a prostitute in a brothel, and, as we learn, she is a very unlikeable person. We are told she takes her daughter’s money (Josie) and has always resented her. Josie works in a bookstore with her friend, Patrick, and one day a girl (just older then Josie) named Charlotte walks into the store. Josie and Charlotte become good friends, and convinces her to apply to Smith. After struggles with her money and blackmailing John Lockwell, she sends off her application. Throughout the story she has a hard time with her mother, and her criminal boyfriend, leaving and getting in trouble, and she has to find a way to get out of the trouble she leaves behind.

Some moments while reading I couldn’t put down the book or turn the page. A key example is when she receives the letter from Smith, and the letter is written out across a few pages, and the build up, and then disappointment it gives you the reader. Her mother, and her criminal boyfriend Cincinnati, you learn to hate through the book .... It has some very sad parts, when Patrick’s dad dies, or when Willie (the owner of the brothel who is good friends with Josie) dies. The book has a few side stories, like her relationship with Jessie which works very well with the main story.

The book was extremely gripping to read. It was extremely hard to turn the page at points, the main reason being you couldn’t bear the thought of reading what has happened.

I usually do not read this type of book, but was extremely fond of this one. I would recommend it to everyone, especially people who would not read it otherwise.

Louis, from University College School London

The book is set in the fifty’s and most of it is set in a brothel. Seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine has lived on her own since she was 11, when she left her selfish, cruel mother. Her mother was a prostitute who once showed up for Parents' Day at school wearing nothing but a fur coat. Josie spends her mornings cleaning a New Orleans brothel (a brothel is where men turn up to visit prostitutes) and helping the madam, Willie, and then works in the bookshop where she boards. A chance encounter with a tourist who is later murdered sets off a chain of confused events that has Josie warily keeping her gun close at hand. All the while, Josie dreams of getting out of New Orleans and getting admitted to Smith College in Massachusetts.

The mature content of Out of the Easy will make it a tough sell for some younger children but I myself actually quite enjoyed it (being younger than the age recommended), I thought it was well written and a few parts of it were quite humorous so I think even if you are younger than the advised age of 14 to 17 it's worth taking a chance. Ruta Sepety also wrote a book with, according to the internet, some things in common so if you read Out of the Easy and enjoy it maybe you should pick that book up as well. Overall I would rate this book 7/10

Mona, from Wren Academy Barnet

Seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine lives in New Orleans and is locally known as the daughter of a brothel prostitute and all she wants is to prove that she is nothing like her mother.

When a chance in a life time opportunity to go to an elite collage appears, she is determined to achieve her goal. However, a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves her confused and challenged as she slowly realised that her mother was involved.

Out of the Easy is an emotional tale of one girl’s struggles due to the reputation of her mother’s sordid past. Out of the Easy is like a roller coaster of emotions that drags you along till you reach the end. It is a book bursting with feelings and thoughts.

Noah, from University College School London

Out of the Easy is a book set in the mid-20th century, in New Orleans. It is a book about a girl named Josie, who is known as the prostitute’s daughter. Her mother is a horrible woman, who beat Josie as a child. Her mother then runs away with the gangster and despicable Cincinatti, while Josie tries to raise 3,000 dollars so that she can go to college with her friend Charlotte, who goes to Smith. Josie lives in the quarter, a bad area of New Orleans, and works in a bookshop with her childhood friend Patrick, but also works part time cleaning in her mother’s brothel, which is owned by Willie, a kind-hearted nightmare. Josie lives in an apartment above the bookshop, which was given to her in a secret agreement with Charlie, Patrick’s dad, who later in the book had a mental issue.

There are many things I like about the book. Firstly, the characters are very identifiable, and have funny and individual character traits, and the author develops the characters very well, giving them life-like qualities as well as having the individual characters develop feelings for each other. Also how they act around some people are different to how they act around different people a trait which appears in real life but lots of authors fail to grasp, and the author had done it really well. You can also develop feelings for a character, and while there is space to sympathise with them, they still have personal character traits and personalities. This is one of the aspects I find really important in a book, and many books do not quite grasp. The author of Out of the Easy had done this really well.

Secondly, the book has an interesting plot line, which, while being easy to follow, has many unexpected twists and turns, and has a constant wave of highs and lows for the main character, which kept the reader interested and also prevented the reader to be able to predict what would happen next, even though the plot allowed the reader to understand fully what was going on. Your journey through the book also was the same as the main character’s, as all the plot twists are revealed to you at the same time as the main character, and having it told in first person really helps you to feel the emotions of the character as well as develop an emotional attachment to the character, and feel their feelings towards characters, without feeling that the author has highlighted the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’. This once again, is something that authors often fail to capture, and Ruta Sepetys has grasped really well in the book.

Something I did not like, however, was how Josie’s feelings towards different characters would vary too much. For example, at the beginning of the book, Josie says her mother is ‘a prostitute. Not the filthy streetwalking kind, but fairly pretty and well spoken….’, and then by the end of the book Josie completely despises her mother, while the book only spans a couple months. This is an example of a thing which happens in the book which would never happen in real life, which is, I feel one of the only bad aspects about the book.

The book is also a fairly simple read, and is not very difficult to get through, even if it is quite long. I would only take about a week or two to finish, and the plot is fairly easy to follow.

I really liked Out of the Easy and would recommend it to anybody who wants a good, but short read. I would recommend it to anybody of ages 12 and above. I give it a 4 out of 5.

Oliver, from University College School London

Out of the Easy is set in the dark back streets and alley ways of the quarter in New Orleans also known as the Big Easy. The book looks at the life of young woman called Josie, after one of the best brothel madams around, who tries to reach a college where she hopes to study and move up in society. Unfortunately for Josie her mother is a rather unintelligent prostitute with only money on her mind “not the filthy street walking kind. She’s actually quiet pretty, fairly well spoken, and has lovely clothes. But she sleeps with men for gifts or money and according to the dictionary that makes her a prostitute.” Josie however is rather different to her mother, “who is only half the equation”, growing up with no father she doesn’t rely on anyone especially her mother who became increasingly resentful towards her as she grew up to the extent Josie left the brothel where her mother lived. Josie relocated to a store room in the local book shop where in return for the accommodation she would work. In the book shop Josie prospers learning all there is in literature. It is in the book shop Josie meets a man whose murder will turn her life upside down.

As well as Josie there are three main characters, the first of whom is called Willie who runs and owns the brothel that Josie grew up in. Despite rejecting Josie at first she ends up being more of a mother to her than Josie’s mother. Willie employs Josie to tidy up all of the rooms after every night of business informing her of any item that has been located in a room that doesn’t belong there. Willie is the rock that Josie requires in times of trouble. Moreover, as well as being Josie’s employer and carer she is in many ways her protector as she is the one who keeps Josie armed and sends her to a safe house when the city gets rough. As well as Willie there is Patrick the son of the owner of the book shop which Josie lives in due to his father illness Patrick runs the shop and works alongside Josie every day, despite him not giving physical protection to Josie of any description he offers emotional support throughout the story. The final character in the story is Josie’s mother Louise; she is not very loving towards her daughter and feels no regret stealing all her daughter’s saving and placing, an impossible to repay $3000, debt upon her knowing that the heavys will beat Josie if it’s not repaid in time. 

The setting of the book is in the bleak down town of New Orleans where the men expect her to be like her mother and the women feel as if calling her a whore makes them a better person. And this is what she hopes to leave but she struggles to escape the lure of the city and all of the mysteries that surround it. Will she get out even after the death of someone very close.

Oscar, from University College School London

Out of the Easy, by Ruta Sepetys, Is a story about a girl, known locally as a brothel prostitute’s daughter, her ambition is to escape to a new, unjudged life, but New Orleans just drags her back in.

Out of the Easy is a great book, the best I have read in a while. It has incredible depth of character, with completely contrasting personalities, showing her range of writing abilities.  It is very well written, with a great writing technique, she often uses phrases in strange ways and knows how to deliver the feeling of location and character. The book was clearly very well thought out, riddled with twists and an interesting plot that carries on giving. The book has a wonderful interaction between the lower off and the rich, showing Josie’s desperate struggle to be moved away from her life into one of elite sophistication and actual happiness. A great variety of dramatic scenes, shocking, intense and romantic gave just the right level of interest that was consistent throughout. I think that her mother being such a deluded awful person that seemed to always ruin things even when she was away, provided a great relationship of pure hatred, and a great basis to start the story on, especially in the well picked location of the French quarter of New Orleans. This dark crooked area riddled with traps to pull you further in, gave the perfect location for someone trying to escape their miserable life. Josie is so much in need for love, which she lacks from her mother that when a well taught man assumed that she was in college, it drove her to love and even obsess over him. The relationship between the characters and the reader grows for you to despise all that is bad and really feel for the characters that have had something bad happen to them.

This is the kind of book that starts you reading again, that reminds you of how wonderful it is to fall into someone else’s life and watch. I highly recommend this book and I think that the writer constructed it beautifully.

Rachel, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Out of the Easy is about a girl whose mother is a prostitute and her only dream is to get out of New Orleans. To make everything worse her mum told her that her name, Josie, was named after a prostitute that died! To make Josie’s dream of going to college true she works in a bookshop to save the money to afford to go.

A tourist comes into Josie’s bookshop and later gets killed; the death might be linked to Josie’s mother’s actions. Can Josie take it...?

I did not enjoy Out of the Easy, I found it quite boring and I carried on reading to give the book a chance because the beginning wasn’t very good and everyone deserves a second chance, even books!

Out of the Easy is not a book I would usually read but I thought I would try a new genre. I didn’t really understand it at bits and sometimes I found it confusing. I found the plot a bit too detailed and I think Ruta Sepetys should have kept it simpler. I wouldn’t read it again.

Raluca, from Copthall School, Barnet

Josie (Jo) is a very well written character. She is a strong, intelligent and very realistic. She is an extremely believable character with a good blend of strengths and flaws. She is a teenage girl who lives on her own, and wanted desperately to get out of New Orleans and go to College. With a prostitute for a mother and no known father her goal seems to be a pipe dream. A sick friend and a murder mystery just add to her troubles.

Her mother is an evil piece of work. I loathed her. She is one of the most self-centred ladies ever! Then there is Willie who runs the whorehouse where Jo cleans and her mother sells herself. It took the longest time for me to make up my mind about her. I like her no nonsense attitude but I always felt that she was hiding something. Then there is Cokie. I loved Cokie. He is the driver for Willie and acts like an uncle and friend to Jo. I think I could have a great time hanging out with him, sweet and funny as he is!

There is a bit of a love triangle between her, Patrick and Jesse. Jesse is the ladies’ man mechanic of the Quarter with a ‘bad boy’ edge. Patrick is the son of the owner of the bookstore where she lives and works; the smart intellect, caring for his ill father.

This book is really good. It shows a teen who is caring, helpful and smart, but has some major problems in her outside life. A must read! I would rate it 4/4.5 stars.

Ryan, from University College School London

This book is set in the nineteen fifties in the New Orleans and it is based on a girl name Josie Moraine who is the daughter of a prostitute. This story follows Josie’s life in the French part of New Orleans and she tries to make a whole new life for herself.

She is really embarrassed about having a prostitute mother so she wants to go over to the east, where nobody will know who she is or where she comes from. All the girls in her school now keep on pitying her joking about her making fun of her and now she is fed up of it she just wants to move somewhere where they won’t know that her mum is a prostitute.

Josie’s life is so hard because she has to work two jobs just able to help herself and to save money to go far away for college. She works as an assistant and works with a book lover. She really wants Patrick the bookshop owner to be her love because his father is her ideal father. He is caring supportive and friendly. Her other job is being a cleaner at the biggest brothel in New Orleans. 

Later on in this dramatic book a wealthy tourist gets killed after visiting Josie’s bookstore. The mystery that Josie is trying to figure out might be linked with her mother which is the main reason why I like this book because it is a crime scene and investigation novel and I really link with them. I recommend it to anyone because it is a very good book!

Ryoma, from University College School London

I thought this book was going to be a bit ‘strange’ in a way but after digging my face into it I realised that it wasn’t just about a prostitute’s daughter and that it was a touching and also a sad story. This was completely different from what I had expected.

This is a very good book because although the plot is simple and easy to follow Ruta Sepetys has reshaped the story into a realistic 1950s tale about a teenage girl struggling with life. The interesting plot dragged me into the book especially when Josie’s money for college and her pistol gets stolen.

The story becomes real with all the great description about houses, clothing and faces (mainly). The names and authors of the books that Josie mentions when she is playing with Patrick also increases the reality and strengthens the fact that Josie really loves books.

I loved the part when Josie got out her pistol and scared the soul out mighty John Lockwell, blew his picture and commanded him to sit in the corner. That was the only time Josie felt strong or brave.

I would recommend this to anyone mature but it is still very interesting to read for any age. This story will take you to the real world of teenagers and adulthood, and the experience of losing someone extremely important to you.

Sam, from Jewish Community Secondary School

With no father, and a mother with a dirty reputation, Josie Moraine is determined to make the best of life, she wants to go to college, but because of her background it was not going to be easy. Along the way many more problems come her way. 

The story goes through many twists and turns; so many that the main plot becomes completely irrelevant at times. Now I believe this is a good thing and I really enjoyed reading it. Although at the beginning, I feel the author drags out the story a bit but the rest of the novel was really engaging. You get to really understand what must be like for Josie and at times you really feel sorry for her, especially later on.

Pros: This was a spectacular read and I would certainly recommend this book.  It is really well written and a real page turner.

Cons: It is however quite a mature book and is only for a specific age.

In conclusion I really enjoyed reading Out of the Easy and I will read more books by Ruta Sepetys.

Thomas, from University College School London

Out of the Easy is a book about a prostitute’s daughter called Josie. The main idea of the book is that Josie lives in New Orleans but wants to go to Smith College in Northampton. In New Orleans she mainly works in a bookshop in the French Quarter owned by Charlie Marlowe and run by his son Patrick but also works for Willie cleaning up her house every morning.

The main characters of the book are Josie, the ‘prostitute’s daughter’, Louise, Josie’s mum, Willie, the head of the house at a house where prostitutes work, Patrick the person who runs the bookshop and also Josie’s friend, Charlie, Patrick's father and a literature writer who owns the bookshop, Cokie, Josie’s good friend and a cab driver & Jesse, Josie’s other good friend who is a mechanic. Finally Cincinnati, Louise’s boyfriend and ‘partner in crime’.

The main themes of this book are love between Josie’s mum and Cincinnati, Josie and Jesse, Josie and Patrick & the Gay relationship between Patrick and the owner of rival bookshop, Doubleday called James which, unlike today, in 1950 when the book is set, seemed completely wrong and unheard of. This book though, is also about hatred. For example, there is hatred between Willie and Josie’s mum, Josie and her mum & finally Cincinnati and almost all of the characters in the book.

The writing style of the book was different to other books. For example there was some abnormal and unexpected phrases. For example ‘Patrick’s shoulders frowned’ and ‘Miss Paulsen’s taffied scalp’. Personally I don’t think that it made the book any better.

There were many settings in the story. There were the main settings like the bookshop, Josie’s apartment above the bookshop, the French Quarter. There were also smaller settings like Willie’s house and parlour, Patrick and Charlie’s house and Charlotte’s Aunty and Uncle’s house were they have the party in ‘Uptown’. When I was reading the book I really could picture these settings.

Even though there were quite a lot of good things about the book there were a couple of things that didn’t work. An example of this was that the book had some abnormal sentences which I didn’t really like. The other thing that I didn’t like was that the book didn’t grip me.

I think this book was good but it didn’t grip me like other books have done before. Though it is generally quite a good book because it has an interesting storyline and it is quite an easy book to just pick up and read. I think this book is for 10-13/14 year olds. I rate Out of The Easy: 6/10.

Thomas, from University College School London

Out Of The Easy written by Ruta Sepetys was published in February 2013. It takes place in 1950 in the French Quarter of New Orleans and is about a seventeen-year-old girl called Josie Moraine that wants to get out of the underground life of New Orleans and achieve great things.

Josie Moraine moved to New Orleans with her mother many years ago so her mother could work for Willie as a prostitute as she ran the local brothel. Many years later Josie’s mum is still a prostitute, Josie works as a cleaning lady for Willie and Josie also works at a bookshop with her close friend Patrick. Josie works hard in both jobs to attempt to earn enough money to fund her time at an elite college, which is her life goal. When a tourist dies in New Orleans after visiting her bookstore, she is tempted at every turn into finding out the truth behind his mysterious death. The remainder of the book is about Josie trying to get in college, finding out about the dead tourist and all of her other problems that occur in the Big Easy.

There are many characters in this book each being unique and having a different role. The main character are Josie, Josie’s mum, Willie, Patrick and Jesse. Josie is the intelligent, determined and kind protagonist of the book whose only aim is to get into an elite college. Josie’s mum is a complete and utter scumbag; she is thieving and will do anything to get money, she works as a prostitute for Willie at her brothel. Willie runs the local brothel, she has a hard outer surface but is kind to her friends and she also has lots of eyes and ears in New Orleans meaning nothing goes unheard by her. Patrick is kind hearted and clever and works with Josie at the bookstore but his father is very ill which can make him sad at times. Jesse is popular handsome and loves his cars, he likes Josie and is also kind and considerate to her. There and tons more characters which can sometimes be hard to keep track of but the more you read the book the easier they are to remember.

I thought this book was very good since it felt realistic. The plot was interesting and had unpredictable twists and turns and all the characters had unique personalities and felt real and relatable. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes young adult books that is over the age of twelve as there are adult themes.

Zach, from University College School London

1950 in New Orleans. Josie, the daughter of an uncaring brothel prostitute dreams of escaping the Big Easy, and going to college. She wants to start fresh, and leave behind her old life.

Josie moved away from home into an apartment on top of a bookshop at the age of 11, and now (at the age of 17) works there. Her cruel and selfish mother ignores her, steals from her, and is obsessed with a man that is trouble. But, despite all of this, Josie does not focus on the bad things going on, instead she soldiers on, determined to one day achieve her dreams.

Out of The Easy contains a range of characters. My favourite character by far, has to be Willie, the madame of the brothel. I think this description "wicked stepmother with the fairy godmother heart" is a great way of summing her up. Even though she has a hard outer shell, she cares a lot for Josie.

Jesse, with his leather jacket and motorbike quickly showed that he was the friendly lover. His quiet and shy personality slowly uncovers leaving an intelligent and charming man. The  romance between Jesse and Josie is not too obvious and it does not happen as soon as Jesse enters the story.

I liked Sepetys portrayal of the prostitutes, she shows that they're not sad, nasty and bitter characters, instead they're kind of normal; they have feelings and do what they have to do to live their lives. These women were not weird as I expected, but funny and caring.

I have never read about “YA historical fiction” as this book supposedly is about as YA historical fiction as you can get. I didn’t dislike Out of the Easy but I didn’t find it to be particularly gripping, it is not one of the best books I have ever read, but this is probably because I am not a fan of romantic stories.