Wow. Never thought I'd enjoy Out of the Easy as much as I did... ok I'm lying. I expected it to be awesome and awesome it was. Kudos, Sepetys for creating a fabulous historical world of fiction set in the 1950s in New Orleans with amazing characters.
It is very unfortunate that I cannot say the same for Between Shades of Gray do not ask me why, it's a long story. Josie wants to escape life in 'The Big Easy' as well the clutches of her mother (whom treats her horribly. Hmph!) and attend college far far away from New Orleans and the people that look down upon her for being the daughter of a prostitute. To achieve this, she must go through temptation, drama, and mishap. Sepetys crafted a wonderful world that brings inspiration and hope all from a town filled with poverty and prostitution. I enjoyed Josie very much, she was a strong-willed bookworm whom I could relate to... to an extent.
"The only reason I'd lift my skirt is to pull out my pistol and plug you in the head."
I enjoy historical fiction so I knew this wouldn't be a problem. To be frank, I enjoy it more than paranormal Young Adult Lit even though i read more paranormal than i do histrical. If you're new to this whole historical fiction genre, Out of the Easy will most definitely leave you with wanting more of HiFi (okay HiFi is a stupid abbreviation, I know). The feeling I got whilst reading this was... I don't have words for it. It was as though I was there, but really not. Like I could feel the atmosphere of the French Quarter, yet I couldn't. Do you even understand what I'm trying explain?
Wait, I think I have a better example: You know in the Order of the Phoenix (the film) where Harry stumbles upon the pensieve, falls into it and is "back in time" (though really he was in a memory). Well, whilst in the court room at the Ministry of Magic -- he's there experiencing what's going down and sees the people as well as feel the tension in the room, but he's not really there... you get it? That's what it felt like for me.
My favourite character in Out of the Easy was Willie, the madam at Conti Street bordello. She appeared to be a vulgar, mean woman when in reality, she was all about tough love. She cared for Josie even though it didn't seem like it; I loved/admired her remarks and her toughness. She wasn't one to sugarcoat things. She was very outspoken, opinionated, and extremely intelligent when it came to handling business. I loved Josie's description of Willie, too: The wicked stepmother with the fairy godmother heart. It's on point.
I'd recommend that you get your hands on Out of the Easy immediately and start gobbling this up. You are missing out on a colourful world.