“I leapt eagerly into books. The characters’ lives were so much more interesting than the lonely heartbeat of my own.”
Blurb (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.
Thoughts- I’m a big fan of Ruta Sepetys books, she’s really opened me up to the world of historical fiction and what it can actually bring to the table. While I did enjoy this book, I do think that it is not her strongest book that she’s written.
The book initially really grabs you and draws you into the story because of the beautifully poetic writing style and the strong characters. Right off from the beginning, Sepetys shows how absolutely terrible Josie’s mother is and how that has shaped Josie’s own life. The main purpose of the book is to show us that we can’t be tied down by what we’re born into, and Josie does a fantastic job of portraying that.
I’ve never read much set in New Orleans or this time period, and just seeing how Josie and her family (blood related or not) all are intertwined with not only each other, but the mob (and those consequences) is actually heart breaking. I love, absolutely love, the setting and how well it’s crafted. You can really visualize and feel where you are and understand the time period.
My only real issue with this book is that the second half of the book does drag, or at least it did for me. It felt like we were constantly waiting for something to happen. Waiting for the mob to catch up with Josie, waiting for her college letter, waiting for the murder case to progress. I simply wish that Sepetys took this time to develop not only her main characters, but the secondary characters more so that the ending events could’ve left even more of an impact on the reader.
Other than that, I loved the story and how it progressed and all of the characters present. All of Josie’s relationships, with her mother, Willie, Cokie, Jesse, Patrick, and even Mr. Lockwell, felt so real and genuine. I especially loved the relationship between Willie and Josie and how Willie wasn’t necessarily a mother, but she was the closet thing that Josie had to a proper one. I do wish there was a bit more romance, especially the plotline that Sepetys set up with Patrick, but never did explore much.
Overall, this was a fantastic historical fiction read that just dragged a little bit in the downtime of the book.I still highly recommend this, especially if you love historical fiction (like myself), or the 1950s. It definitely wasn’t my favorite of Sepetys’s novels, but it was still quite refreshing and different.