If you’ve followed my blog, you know I went on an Out of the Easy New Orleans tour back in July (here’s the link: http://bookreviewsbyava.tumblr.com/post/124327243159/out-of-the-easy-by-ruta-sepetys-french-quarter ) and that was when I officially discovered my love for Ruta Sepetys’s books. She’s the whole package- a great writer who chooses words wisely and creates you’re not soon to forget. So when I got the chance to review her new book, Salt to the Sea, I was thrilled. I didn’t think it could live up to Between Shades of Gray however. Boy was I wrong.
Salt to the Sea is about four teens. Joana, who you might recognize from Sepetys’s debut, is a Lithuanian deserter and nurse. Florian is a Prussian who restores art, and is Emilia the Polish girl he finds in the woods, who’s hiding a big secret. Finally, there’s Alfred, a Nazi ship worker. Throughout their journey through Eastern Europe and its seas, these four young people fight for their country, their family, and, most importantly, their sanity.
Ruta Sepetys’s third novel is a doozy, packed with love, loss, and history, not to be missed this winter. You can pick it up in stores February 2016.
For a while, I’ve wanted to read a Ruta Sepetys book. I’ve heard the hype, sure, but I never really listened to it. Her genre is not a genre I read frequently, so I was a little skeptical at first, but I’m really glad I picked up this historical fiction coming-of-age/mystery.
Right off the bat, Ruta Sepetys immerses you in a vivid portrait of 1950’s New Orleans, where our main protagonist, Josie Moraine has grown up. After reading Out of the Easy, I was practically counting down the minutes until I got to visit New Orleans (more on that after the review). Josie lives above and works at a small, independent bookstore in the French Quarter. When she’s not doing that, she helps at the local brothel where her mother works. And when she’s not doing that, she’s trying to find a way to get into the college of her dreams. Quite obviously Josie has her hands full. She’s used to it, as she’s been living alone in her apartment since the age of 10 while her mother lives at the brothel. One afternoon, when Josie and her friend/colleague Patrick Marlowe are working in the bookstore, a man comes in. His name is Forest Hearne, a Vanderbilt football player. Josie is immediately enamored my him, and is delighted when he shows interest in her ambitious future plans. The next day, Forest Hearne is found dead in a bar. He was uninjured, so it’s ruled a heart attack. But Josie doesn’t believe that… especially when she finds Forest’s solid-gold watch in her mother’s bedroom. The same day, Josie’s mother’s former boyfriend, Cincinnati, appears. The last time anyone had seen him before his disappearance, he was beating Josie’s mother, before running off into the streets. Can Josie find out the truth about Forest Hearne and her mother’s role in his death while still trying for the future she’s always dreamed of?
Complete with a cast of nuanced, unique characters that will make you laugh, cry, and swoon, Ruta Sepetys’s second YA novel set in the unique environs of 1950s New Orleans is not to be missed!
French QuarterOut of the Easy Savenger Hunt:
Now for the fun part! While reading Ruta Sepetys, I happened to be staying in the French Quarter for my road trip, so I decided to find some places Josie might have visited. With a little help from Ms. Sepetys herself via Twitter, I was able to visit some of the places that inspired certain locations in Out of the Easy.
First Stop: Librairie Bookshop, which Marlowe’s Bookshop is loosely based off. It’s located at 823 Chartres St, two blocks away from Café Du Monde, an amazing breakfast place. A great stop if you’re looking for some interesting used books!
Next up: Royal Pharmacy on 1101 Royal St, where Josie and Jesse have hot chocolate. Besides a soda fountain, you can purchase DVDs and snacks at Royal Pharmacy. And if you like that, I suggest Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain in Boreum Hill, Brooklyn.
Bonus: A Slidell sign! Slidell is the place where Willie’s vacation home is and where Josie visits. Alas, I didn’t have time to actually visit Slidell, because I needed to get to Monroeville, where I planned to pick up Harper Lee’s new novel (read about that here).
That’s all for the Out of the Easy French Quarter Scavenger Hunt. I hope you liked it!
Special thanks to Ruta Sepetys for the information and locations.