Publisher: Philomel Books
Release Date: February 12, 2013
From Goodreads: It’s 1950, and 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.
With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.
My thoughts: This was my first Ruta experience, but it won’t be the last. I plan to snag Between Shades of Gray from the library in the very near future.
I have never visited New Orleans, but it is certainly on my short list of places to travel to so I started this book with high expectations. I was not let down, not even a teeny, tiny bit. I was IN The Big Easy while reading this. I could feel the heat, the swanky-bordering-on-skanky aura of the brothel, and the mystery.
And Josie, well, she’s a character that I wanted to cheer for her successes, cry over her failures, and dream her dreams along side her. Her understanding of her limited world in a town where everyone knows who her mother is has her dreaming of getting away and starting over at college, but that takes money which is something she doesn’t have much of. However, she doesn’t give up, even when her mother comes trashing up her plans like a tornado.
And the supporting cast of characters were fabulous too. The scummy thugs were rotten, of course, but the brothel was full of women who cared for Josie and who weren’t just complete drug addicted prostitutes. Not that I’m advocating that profession, but I did appreciate how the women had personality and characteristics that went beyond the expected and customary. I think it kept the novel from being trashy, moving it more towards compassion and interesting, at least for me.
I highly recommend this book! I’d love to hear from someone who has read this book and visited New Orleans. Did the book live up to reality? Did it capture the essence of the city?