“What do you do with all this bank, Josie? Be a lot easier if you just lifted your skirt.”
“The only reason I’d lift my skirt is to pull out my pistol and plug you in the head.”
-Ruta Sepetys, Out of the Easy
Josie Moraine is a girl who just wants a life full of opportunity. She wants to go to a good college and she wants to be seen as normal. The second one is made very hard because of her prostitute mother that is selfish and often leaves her in a lot of trouble. Nonetheless, Josie keeps her head high and her dreams higher. Luckily, Josie has a handful of people that are willing to help her because they know her hard life. Like Josie, these characters have a lot of personality that I absolutely loved throughout reading.
“I leapt eagerly into books. The characters’ lives were so much more interesting than the lonely heartbeat of my own.”
This story took place in New Orleans around 1950. I liked how Ruta Sepetys never actually mentioned it was in 1950, but you can tell with the great amount of detailed settings and characters throughout the book.
My Thoughts (Spoilers)
This book was definitely charming. I absolutely love the intense amount of detail Sepetys puts into everything. She is able to make me feel a part of the plot, and the fact that she chose such a rich setting like New Orleans, everything seems like it fits into place.
This may sound creepy, but I love seeing characters suffer. I mean, think about it. If superman didn’t have kryptonite as his weakness, his story would be “Oh look! Someone is dying!” BAM “Saved!” That would not be enjoyable. So yeah, I like seeing characters suffer, and suffer they do. Josie struggles with parental figures, money problems, boy problems (yes there is some romance- but not much) and college problems.
Parental Figures (spoilers)
With parental figures, Sepetys was able to make me absolutely hate her mother in the first chapter. In the first chapter, there was a back flash when Josie was seven. Her mother treated her in a way that might of appeared nice and at first I just thought she was a tough-love mother. Soon, I was able to see the kind of neglect and emotional abuse that was involved. Later on, her mother would steal large sums of money and stuff like that from her and would leave huge amounts of debt onto Josie’s shoulders. Once her mother leaves to California to “become famous” you may think Josie was alone, but she wasn’t. Wille, a tough loving madam, was like a mother to Josie. I trusted Willie. She could get Josie out of any problem, including her 5-thousand dollar debt.
Money Problems (spoilers)
With money problems, Josie struggles… bad. These aren’t just any money problems, though, because they are caused by none other then her mother. She wants to go to college .Her friend, Cokie, that obviously cares for her very much and knew her when she was young, gives Josie two-thousand dollars for her birthday because he knows of her dream of college. That gets stolen and then Josie is given a five-thousand dollar debt for her mothers’ alibi that her mother never payed, why am I not surprised. Now the debt is rolled down to the next line of the family. Josie has to pay five thousand dollars and is told she can not tell anyone, or they will be killed. Wow, that’s truly a money problem.
Boy Problems (No spoilers, aaha)
Josie also deals with boy troubles and love interests. InterestS. Notice the plural.
Let’s discuss the characters that are the love interestSSSSSSSS
Patrick Marlowe, Josie’s best friend, is charming, funny, loves to read, and good-looking in a preppy-boy way. It is soon obvious, however, that Josie will never get with Patrick. It’s not that he has any flaws, because they seem absolutely perfect for each other with their little secret hand signals, it’s just that. I don’t know how to explain this. I felt that Josie never really had to struggle in order to be with Patrick. If they decided to be together, it would be easy, click, just like that. Those kind of relationships never really happen in books, and that’s why it’s obvious that it wouldn’t happen. If it did happen, I would dislike Ruta Sepetys. Instead of leaving Patrick as a best friend, Sepetys does something so unexpected and I love her for that. You’ll have to read the book to find out aha.
“The tips of my fingers went cold. Choose. Verb. To decide from a range of options. I looked at him. ‘There’s someone else?’.
-Ruta Sepetys, Out of the Easy
In the middle of the story, before things with Patrick got serious, there was another guy, Jesse Thirrey.
Jesse, on the outside, fits into the bad-boy stereotype. He wears jeans and leather jackets with his dark hair. He has a perfect face with strikingly handsome features. He drives a motorcycle, he’s fixing a car, and all the girls are crazy about him.
On the inside, he is a true, true softie. He lives to take care of his grandparents, he sells flowers from a flower cart for money, he never flirts with girls because he has his eyes on only one, and he’s fixing a car at the moment so that he can take his hopefully future girlfriend on a date. That is why I like this character so much. Once you give him a chance, he is a completely different person. A completely better person. Gosh, he’s just do darn charming.
“You like me, Josie Moraine. You just don’t know it yet.”
-Ruta Sepetys, Out of the Easy
Josie always liked him, you can tell, but feelings for Jesse get confusing for her after Patrick turns her down. She feels guilty if she comes forward about her feelings because she feels like now that she knows she can’t have Patrick she wants to go to the next-best-thing. That just shows how much she really likes Jesse. She doesn’t want him to feel like a next-best-thing. She wants to wait until the he’s the thing.
Josie wants a normal life and a good college. She wants to go to Smith. People bring her down when she tells them that, her friends tell her to choose a cheaper and not-as-good college. That doesn’t stop her. She gets someone to write a recommendation letter, well she bribes them, and Cokie gives her money. Not all of it, but two thousand dollars is a pretty sweet birthday gift. All she needs is the acceptance letter and some more moola. When her money is stolen and she gets rejected, she realized that she’s doomed. Jesse helps her realize that it’ll all be okay, that she doesn’t’ need a big fancy college to feel useful. Gosh, I love Jesse.
Surprisingly, a lot of people liked Between Shades of Grey better than Out of the Easy for reasons I might never understand. Okay, actually I kind of understand it. While readers near the end of this book, they may or may not find it gets slightly more boring and loses its fresh charm. However, I didn’t realize this. I read this book while I was riding thirteen-hour planes so for me, it was the most interesting thing.
I just love this book so much. Ruta Sepetys makes it so… honest. It’s complicated, yes, but it’s also real. As I read, I remember feeling all the feels. I remember feeling hatred towards Josie’s mom abandoning her and her selfishness. How could a mother leave their child with a debt of five-thousand dollars?! I remember feeling the butterflies when Josie would communicate with Jesse. Sigh. I remember feeling inspired in moments when Josie was building up confidence and composure to face her obstacles. I remember almost breaking out to tears when Josie had to deal with a death of someone she loved (you’ll find that in the book) and when her mother stole everything. I remember feeling hope when Forest Hearne walked into the store and Josie, for a second, felt that he might be her father. I love feeling all the feels, and this book made me feel them.
I would recommend this book to anyone that loves reading, or hates it. Maybe this book will make you love it.
I want to thank one of my favorite authors, Ruta Sepetys, for making me love historical fiction. I was always a little iffy when someone recommended me a historical fiction book, but I am so thankful that Between Shades of Grey was recommended to me. Now, I can’t wait for Salt to the Sea and I must get my hands on it immediately.
Image credits goes to “the pretty books” on wordpress