87. Ruta Sepetys' second YA novel, Out of the Easy, was unlike most of the YA novels I've read recently. And that's a good thing. Her novel, set in 1950s New Orleans, is a fascinating glimpse into a different world. Josie Moraine has made something approaching a life for herself, working at a local book shop and, after hours, cleaning the brothel where her mother works. But Josie wants out--she's tired of people making assumptions about her based on what they know of her mother, and she wants to make something more of her life. She dreams about attending college in New England, but she doesn't have the money or the connections to do so. But when a customer in the bookstore winds up dead, Josie suspects there's more to his death than meets the eye. As she works to unravel what's really going on, she finds the courage to work towards her own dreams as well.
The two best things about this novel are the fascinating characters and the detailed setting. I was impressed with Sepetys' research for this novel--evident in so many of the little details of the setting. Josie is the kind of character you can't help loving, and she's surrounded by a memorable cast of characters, many of whom surprised me. Given the murder mystery element of the plot, the plot moved surprisingly slowly. That wasn't a problem for me, because I was more interested in seeing how the characters interacted, but readers who go into this expecting a more plot-driven story might be disappointed.