Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Josie Moraine was named after one of the most famous madams in New Orleans. Her mother, Louise, earns her living working as a prostitute for another notorious Big Easy madam—Willie Woodley. Josie supplements her own income from her beloved book store employment by cleaning Willie’s brothel. But, in Out of the Easy, by Ruta Sepetys, Josie Moraine would gladly leave her past behind in a heartbeat. She harbors dreams of attending Smith College. Although she’s applied, she has no idea how she would ever pay the exorbitant tuition…or, more importantly, fit into such a different scenario.
To say life for Josie has been hard would be a vast understatement, but she does have her guardian angels. Her mother, having not one matronly bone in her body, resents the day her daughter was born. Unlike Louise, Madam Willie, whose bark is way worse than her bite, secretly looks out for Josie. Also at an early age, Josie began working at Charlie Marlowe’s bookshop. Charlie took Josie under his wing and created an upstairs room in the store where Josie could live, away from her mother’s craziness.
One afternoon a man of means drops by the bookstore and buys several classics from Josie. His kind interest in her and her future prompts her to daydream about what it would be like if the gentleman were her long-lost father. Imagine her distress the next day to learn that the man is dead, and the police are calling the death a murder.
From this point on, events happen fast and furiously. Her mother is being eyed as a possible suspect. If Louise is guilty, then her bad-news boyfriend, Cincinnati, also had to be involved. But Louise and Cincinnati have disappeared, taking everything of importance to Josie. To make matters worse, some local thugs are putting the squeeze on her. Not wanting to endanger any of her friends, is there any possible way she can save herself…and her dignity?