Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter 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 clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.
With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.
Josie is the daughter of a prostitute in 1950 New Orleans. At a young age she began sleeping in a small apartment above a local bookstore to get away from the abusive ways of her mother. The bookstore owner Charles and his son Patrick have been the closest thing she's had to a family. Madam Willie has taken on the roll of mother and always kept an eye out for Josie and her troubles. But now even those have started stacking up higher than she can manage. After Josie's mother leaves for Hollywood, Josie finds the watch of a dead man in her mother's room. But she puts those thoughts on the back burner for now her main focus is getting into college across America and will do anything for a recommendation. Even threats to a local businessman in hopes to leaving New Orleans forever.
Out of the Easy contains several layers of storylines that weave into a suspenseful thriller. Josie's troubles begin piling up and she makes some bad decisions in hopes for a better future. Catching herself in more than one predicament that she finds difficult to get herself out of alone. She is surrounded by her makeshift family and friends. When Charles falls ill she has the added stress of running the bookstore. With a handful of characters and Josie's life varying from life threatening to a peek into the possibility of romance. This book contains a little bit of everything.
The writing had impressive pacing for a story that contained so many elements. As historical novels often contain a lot of information about the time and setting. This story made it seamlessly easy to fall into the story without any extraneous usage of the language and fashion of the time period. Which I often find overwhelming and off topic to the story.
This is a character driven story. Josie is at a peak time in her life where she is choosing her future. In the mean time, getting herself into more trouble than she can handle, with no thanks to her mother. Josie is a smart girl, but this is one of those stories when there is so much focus on getting the desired affect that you will do anything to get there.