Sunday, September 15, 2013
Stepping back to New Orleans
I love historical fiction, a little celebrated teen genre and I'm especially excited by an author new on the scene, Ruta Sepetys. You may have read or heard about her award winning first book, Between Shades of Gray. If so, you are familiar with author's unflinching look at tough times. In this book, Ms. Sepytys gave us a harrowing look at a little discussed time in recent history. How many of us know that millions of intellectuals from the Baltic states were deported in the Stalin era to work camps in Siberia where many of them perished? The main character in that book is a Lina, a girl from Lithuania who hopes to attend a top art school in her country before she and her family are forced to leave their home on a long train ride, not knowing where they are headed to or whether they will ever see their home again. It's an unforgettable story. In her latest, YA novel, Out of the Easy, the setting is closer to home, in fact it is in the United States. But, it takes place in the most unique city in our country, the mix of cultures that is known as New Orleans. The main character, Josie, is the daughter of a prostitute in the 1950's underworld of New Orlean's French Quarter. Josie is familiar with the world her mother lives in, but there is another world she has been exposed to, the world opened up to her by reading books. She lives and works in a book store, a haven provided to her by a kindly bookseller and his son. Does she dare hope to go to a fancy college in New England and can she extricate herself from the messy world her mother has entangled her in? Josie is a strong and inspiring character and you will wish you could be her friend.