Many of you may know Ruta Sepetys from her wildly successful novel Between Shades of Gray, now she’s back and she’s brought the drama. Her new book, Out of the Easy takes us back to the 1950’s when New Orleans was an entirely different place…
As “The French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. 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.”
We are excited to announce Ruta Sepetys will be in store speaking and signing Out of the Easy Friday, March 1 at 7PM. Check with bookpeople.com for complete details.
In the mean time check out this awesome Q&A Ruta did with Publisher’s Weekly:
“Your new book is a real departure from Between Shades of Gray. What inspired you to write Out of the Easy?
I wanted to take a break from such serious and emotional material. Because my grandfather escaped Lithuania and the camps, I have an intensely personal connection to the story of Between Shades of Gray. So I wanted something different. And several years ago someone gave me a vintage pair of opera glasses. They were still in the case from the New Orleans jeweler and I traced their history to learn they belonged to a woman who lived in the French Quarter. Then I read a book called The Last Madam: A Life in the New Orleans Underworld by Christine Wiltz. It chronicled the life of a famous New Orleans madam, Norma Wallace, and captured the city in all its eccentric beauty. And I started to think about what it would be like for a teenage girl to grow up on the fringes of a brothel, and what kinds of obstacles she would face.
In Out of the Easy, your protagonist, Josie Moraine, is the daughter of a prostitute, and she longs to escape New Orleans and her circumstances. How did you create Josie?
Josie developed out of the time period of the 1950s. I chose the postwar period because it was a time when nostalgia was at an alltime high but there was also a lot of pain and pressure to conform. It was a time of unparalleled prosperity but it was also a quiet nightmare. I found the secrets fascinating. For example, if a parent were ill no one would ever mention it because it would diminish the perception of perfection. It is such a fascinating time period with so much pressure and [so many] expectations on young women, particularly in the South. So I just kept thinking about this young girl growing up on the sidelines of a brothel and how her circumstances would make everything that much harder. And I thought how these pressures would weigh on this girl who is born into brokenness, and what her issues of family and identity would be and how she would create a sense of self worth. Josie Moraine is learning to fly when she’s been born with broken wings.
These characters are all imperfect and full of secrets. I include Dickens in the novel, whom I also mention in Between Shades of Gray, because he was the master of capturing human peculiarity. The setting also allowed me to create characters that were peculiar: some awful, like Josie’s mother and her boyfriend, the dangerous criminal Cincinnati. And in contrast there is the kindly teacher Mrs. Paulsen who helps Josie.
I adore themes of hope and courage and the ways we find meaning through suffering. Josie through her suffering and desperation is learning things. That was true in Between Shades of Gray, too. These Siberia survivors I interviewed all said they learned so much from their suffering, about life and what really matters. So I endeavored to show hope through the brothel story and to chronicle the ways in which we are all the authors of our own destiny.”
CLICK HERE to read the complete Q&A with Ruta Sepetys.