K.'s Reviews > Out of the Easy

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
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bookshelves: 21st-cent, historical, ok-fine-its-ya, ok-i-cheated, own

I'm reading Out of the Easy exactly a year after reading Between Shades of Gray. Sadly, the experience was as far and distinct as the setting in the two books. I was disappointed to say the least. Out of the Easy missed nearly every mark and lacked all the heartbreaking finesse we found in her first novel. Not that there isn't an emotional hook -- the subject matter, while not as ambitious as Between Shades of Gray, is one that could lift the spirit, offer all the grandiose hope we look for in art of all venues.

Out of the Easy is about Josie. She is the daughter of a prostitute, she lives in the Quarter, she works alternately between the bookshop and the brothel, and she is smart. She is smart and determined and optomistic. She dreams of attending college and finally getting out of dirty, wicked New Orleans. I see a pattern in Sepetys' writing: young women with a strong will and an inner compass they steer to get them to a better place. Inspiring. The idea is wonderful and I hope it's a pattern that continues. But life is a journey, not a destination, yes? And this book's journey is just simply...flat. Reading Out of the Easy gave me the distinct feeling of "going through the motions". This is a quick read, the chapters come and go in a blink of an eye. And I felt as if every scene was written and included because it is the formula.

I think I've figured out my problem with Sepetys: there just isn't enough. I felt that way with Between Shades of Gray and I feel it even more potently now. She doesn't given enough information, enough background, enough action, enoug of anything. Josie is a girl who has been made fun of all her life -- yet we don't really experience this alienation. Sure, some people turn away from her in a couple of scenes but not enough. Josie is supposed to be intelligent, a true scholar -- yet the only factors to explore this is her desire to attend school and her job in the bookshop. We see her badly wanting to be admitted but I would've liked to see her be the scholar, be this girl that is being described.

There is a love triangle (sort of) and Josie's reactions to both boys seem off and abrupt -- because again we are not given enough of her relationship with either boy to understand how or why she reacts the way she does. And with Josie herself. I never really got her. She seemed an Everyman reacting to the situations she's put in. Like she was a manifestation of all of us within the book and all she did was choose the path that would appease us all. She wasn't her own person. She didn't have quirks that made her solid and memorable. She was bread.

On a more positive note, the clouds did occasionally part and I caught glimpses of the writer I loved all those months ago. There were sudden slices of sincere heartache, ones that finally had me rooting for Josie. Slices, however, and sudden. There were also some colourful side characters -- but then, aren't they all? Anyway, they got me through. Some of them. Oh, and New Orleans. I think Sepetys did a fair enough job of transporting readers into this old, mythic, succulent and sinful place. It could've been more effecting but I will say that it was one of my lesser complaints.

So it was disappointment. I eventually found myself skimming near the end. I'm not giving up, though because I have this feeling that if Sepetys is inspired enough, and really, truly driven to tell a story of relevance as I think was the case with Between Shades of Gray (not so much with Out of the Easy), I think it will be marvelous. Maybe next January... See you then.

This review also appears on The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.

Note: This review was made possible by Wendy. Thank you, Darling.
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Reading Progress

July 1, 2012 – Shelved
January 16, 2013 – Started Reading
January 16, 2013 –
page 104
30.06% "A very nice start. Not quite as tremendous as Between Shades of Gray but promising. Besides...I've always had a thing for New Orleans."
January 20, 2013 – Finished Reading
January 21, 2013 – Shelved as: 21st-cent
January 21, 2013 – Shelved as: historical
January 21, 2013 – Shelved as: ok-fine-its-ya
January 21, 2013 – Shelved as: ok-i-cheated
January 21, 2013 – Shelved as: own

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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Wendy Darling Oh! You're so welcome, love. Although I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it more. *sigh*


message 2: by Ravenous (new) - added it

Ravenous Biblioworm I greatly enjoyed this book... so maybe I'll even enjoy Shades of Gray more! Looking forward to reading Shades of Gray now.

Wendy, did you read this one?


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I couldn't help but feel that Josie was just lacking on so many levels. She could have been so much more in so many ways, but fell short every time!


Heather Just finished reading this today and i completely agree with everything you said. So much happened and didn't happen all at the sand time.


message 5: by Ravenous (new) - added it

Ravenous Biblioworm We all read differently, with different experiences. I can see your assessments about Josie. I read Josie/the book in a different manner and with different expectations, thus my opinions differ. I was just saying since you enjoyed the other book more (slightly), maybe I'll enjoy it even more than this one.
There were moments where the scenes weren’t deep enough (like you said). I even felt certain motivating factors were given to Josie because it’s the “right thing to do” as society deems so (going to school), which you worded differently and accurately. Josie did have a lot of potential and there were missed potentials.
I enjoyed the writing and the subtle actions to describe a larger moment or emotional feelings. The writing and subtly in this book was something I greatly enjoyed, which makes it better than most other YA novels out there. I weigh the book’s writing heavier (because I also write). Plus I don’t think there is ever a perfect book. They don’t exist for me. So I look for a balance. This one was more leveled than most others.
Reading and enjoying is all so subjective. You were honest in your review; that’s what counts. At least, this book didn’t completely suck for you? I hope your next one is awesome.


message 6: by K. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K. @Ravenous: I think you should read Between Shades of Gray because then I think you'll see just how good Sepetys can be. I don't think she shined with this book. It felt a little short of what really makes a rich novel, like perhaps she had to hand something in on time, a deadline she had to catch, and as result, she had to sacrifice the heart of the story. And that's what I really felt was missing, the heart. Like I said, it seemed to follow a structure and a formula -- robotic almost. The main ingredients were there, but no stuffing. Are these metaphors working? Haha!

It's true, though. When it comes to art, to each his/her own. I'm glad you had a better time :)


message 7: by Ravenous (new) - added it

Ravenous Biblioworm They work perfectly! I will read her prior book. Thanks for the review. :)


Haley These were my exact feelings. It's like a scene would start and then end before you got to the meat of it. So it was just ok. I wanted more depth


Kristen Taber I'm in the middle of reading this book currently and I'm having the same problem. I like the characters. Her descriptions are well-worded, but as people are asking about it, all I can say is that it feels stripped down. I never feel like I'm "in place" with the characters, but watching them as they move through blurred worlds. You put it beautifully "I think I've figured out my problem with Sepetys: there just isn't enough. I felt that way with Between Shades of Gray and I feel it even more potently now. She doesn't given enough information, enough background, enough action, enough of anything."
I'm only 1/3 through and may change my opinion after I'm done reading, but I appreciate you putting to words what I've been feeling!


message 10: by K. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K. Oh Kristen, I'm always so relieved to find someone who feels the same as me about any book. I really loved Between Shades of Grey -- I really liked it but I thought this particular issue got worse in Out of the Easy, so much so that I didn't feel quite as rewarded after reading it :/ But I hope you have a better experience!


Kristen Taber K. wrote: "Oh Kristen, I'm always so relieved to find someone who feels the same as me about any book. I really loved Between Shades of Grey -- I really liked it but I thought this particular issue got worse ..."

I'm about 2/3 in now and I like it well enough to keep reading (so far, I'd give it a 3.5, but until I finish, I can't say for certain). It's definitely not the style I'd choose to read on a regular basis for the reasons you've said; that part is definitely not better. It's just easier to ignore now that I'm used to it. I have to say, there is something about her prose at times that pulls me in and makes me go "that was pretty". I think that saves things for me. I'll have to check out Between Shades of Grey, though. This is the first book I've read by Sepetys.


Kristen Taber K. wrote: "Oh Kristen, I'm always so relieved to find someone who feels the same as me about any book. I really loved Between Shades of Grey -- I really liked it but I thought this particular issue got worse ..."

So I did finish it and agree with your review fully. I gave it more of a 3.5 (I almost always round up), but I'm a little bit of a sucker for poetic prose. I'm not sure I'll get around to doing a full review at any point, but I can't say a whole lot more than you did. Thanks for such a thorough and thoughtful review. I'm glad to know I'm not alone :).


message 13: by Nat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nat I agree that Sepetys could add more detail to her novels and develop much more. However, I don't think it's fair to compare this book to Between Shade of Gray because that one was about a heavier subject and therefore required a deeper emotional aspect. This book was plenty emotional as well, but it was meant to be more humorous and light hearted I think. They are set in far different situations and places and that warrants a different outlook when reading both.


Chene I agree that there isn't enough background information about characters. I never fully understood the relationship between Josie and Willie. Why does Willie love Josie so much? How did they get to that point? Why does Josie keep working for Willie in the brothel when her mother already left? I would have appreciated some of these questions answered.


message 15: by Monalisa (new)

Monalisa I really didn't enjoy this book that much as it lacked clarity


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