I love historical fiction. I know, I know…sounds nerdy, right? I can accept that judgment. So with so many books to read and so little time to read them all, I choose to multitask. A well written novel rocks. A well written novel that teaches me something about a different era or culture rocks my socks off (ok, now I am really deserving of the nerdy label)! This winter I read Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys and it quickly became a go-to recommendation for my adolescent students. Because I enjoyed her first book so much, I decided to give her book Out of the Easy a try.
Why try to get “out of the easy?” Well, it's 1950 and eighteen year old Josie is trying desperately to escape her life in the Big Easy—New Orleans. And trust me, there is a lot for her to escape: her pitiful mother who doubles as a prostitute, the brothel Josie cleans, and the horrible mix-up romance she endures. If the definition of serendipity is everything wonderful happening at once, then Josie’s life is the opposite. Jo wants to not only escape New Orleans, she wants to attend Smith College in Massachusetts. Things in the Big Easy go from bad to worse through a series of events that leaves her life in shambles. I found myself frantically turning the pages, anxious to learn if Jo was accepted in the college of her dreams. Would she ever be able to leave her old life behind and overcome her fear of following in her mother’s footsteps?