Out of the Easy: Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Publisher: Philomel

Publication Year: 2013

Brief Summary: Josie, 17-year-old daughter of a French Quarter prostitute, can’t wait to escape the caged life she leads in the Big Easy.  She devises a plan to attend a prestigious college — working as a maid at the brothel her mother works in, and as a clerk at a bookstore during the day.  But, when she becomes entangled in the murder investigations of a wealthy architect, it seems all her dreams of a better life are about to be crushed.

Personal Comments: Out of the Easy is a captivating read and paints a vivid picture of 1950s New Orleans.  Sepetys’ characters are colorful and memorable, and readers will identify with the identity struggles that Josie (and some of her friends) go through.  Readers who enjoyed Sepetys’ Between Shades of Grey (2011) will like the author’s second novel, though the two books are significantly different in subject matter and tone.  For older readers (high school and up).

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library; brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core/etc.

  • Social Studies: New Orleans history, geography, traditions/culture
  • Discuss historical fiction and its characteristics.  Do you think this book is an example of historical fiction?  Why or why not?
  • Discussion on how our choices might affect the outcomes of our lives, and sometimes the lives of others.  How did the choices Josie make in the book affect her life?  How did her mom’s decisions affect Josie?  What are some other examples of life-changing choices that other characters in the book made?
  • Encourage students to read some of the works mentioned in this book: David Copperfield, Keats, etc.  Why do you think these works were so important to Josie?  What are some of the themes/quotes that she mentions throughout the book?
  • Thinking about different circumstances you might encounter in life or you might be born into.  Is there ever something that you can’t imagine ever getting out of no matter what you do?  Is there such thing as “fate”/”destiny”, or can all those be changed?  (Older students can hold a debate on this topic, or write a persuasive essay arguing either side.)

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Kirkus Book Review Stars, January 15, 2013
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, December 24, 2012 ; Cahners
School Library Journal Book Review Stars, March 2013 ; Cahners

The sights and sounds and characters are vivid and captivating. Her sense of timing is impeccable. Mystery, suspense, and a strong heroine all add up to one fine story. (Sharon Salluzzo, Children’s Literature)

With a rich and realistic setting, a compelling and entertaining first-person narration, a colorful cast of memorable characters and an intriguing storyline, this is a surefire winner. Immensely satisfying. (Kirkus)

Accessed at: Personal Library

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