Recently I finished reading Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys and I really loved it! The novel will be released in February 2013 so I can’t post a review up on here just yet but I don’t think they will mind me mentioning a few non-spoiler things. While reading the book I couldn’t help but also think of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. While both of the books have very different stories, once you get down to the root of it all they both teach the same lessons.
The most obvious similarity between the two main characters, Ponyboy (The Outsiders) and Josie (Out of the Easy is their social standing, their place on the social ladder of life, if you will. Ponyboy is an orphaned greaser trying to make it in a world that is ready to spit in his eye and throw him in jail at any moment. Josie is the daughter of a prostitute in the French Quarter of New Orleans fighting to not fall down the same path as her mother.
Throughout Out of the Easy it is made very clear that Josie has the ability (but not the money) to make a life for herself outside of New Orleans and away from the world that she was brought up in. It is amazing how the people in her life rally around support her dream of going to Smith College. Even the people in her life that think she can’t make it out of New Orleans still support her dream of going to college. Like Pony her parents are essentially gone. Her father is unknown and her mother spends most of her time forgetting she has a daughter or trying to use her for her own gain.
Similarly in The Outsiders everyone in “The Gang” knows that Ponyboy is the only one of them with a real chance in life. Darry gave up his chance at going to college so that he could keep his two younger brothers out of a boy’s home. Ponyboy, for the most part, likes school and is good at it. Darry pushes him to get good grades (a point which often makes the two brothers butt-heads) because he knows that Pony can have a better life than they did growing up. Ponyboy has a chance to make it out of “the neighborhood”. One of my favorite moment’s at the end of the novel is when Pony starts school back up again and goes to lunch with Two-Bit and Steve. While Steve and Two-Bit are inside flirting with the ladies some of the Soc’s start messing with Pony. Pony pulls the bottle on him and the Soc’s leave. Two-Bit and Steve come out and mention how Pony is not like them and he shouldn’t turn into the rest of the Greasers.
Both stories have the characters dealing with major deaths. *Note* No, this is not giving away any spoilers! It’s already in the book descriptions *End Note* Between Shades of Gray, Ruta’s first novel, was practically a bloodbath so I shouldn’t have been surprised that Out of the Easy had a few deaths too. I won’t tell you (because I promised this would NOT be a spoiler post) whether or not these were named characters or the significance they play in the story. Nope. Sorry, promised I woudn’t tell, but you can buy the book when it comes out in February. The Outsiders as we all know (and seriously if you haven’t read The Outsiders then you need to hop on that immediately!) Both characters face hard deaths, deaths that make them face the world as it is and try and find a way to continue living. Both characters take tremendous strides in life because of those deaths.
Each story starts with a death. Ponyboy gets into a scuffle with the Socs and one is killed. Josie’s world changes with a mysterious death in the Quarter. (I feel like I’ve been saying this too much but…*that was not a spoiler!*) The entirety of both of these stories is how each of the characters, and the communities around them, react to those deaths. All of their previous choices in life are challenged, both by themselves and, of course, by outside sources.
To conclude this long post, both of these stories have such great endings. They are great because they are real. That is also such an amazing quality that both authors possess, writing real fiction not making it glamorous, but instead telling the truth.