Just One Day by Gayle Forman and Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys are two of my favorite books of 2013. Both authors construct characters with the skill of a painter’s stroke. The settings of New Orleans and Paris are vivid. Allyson Healey and Josie Moraine are strong protagonists who show a great deal of determination and character and throughout both books I was totally empathetic with both their struggles. What is there not to enjoy while turning the pages! Decisions, decisions…
In Just One Day Allyson Healey is the good girl who has always followed the program of her parents. Everything her parents want she wants. This novel is relatable to the huge universe of teens with helicopter parents. Her depression following the Paris episode is understandable and her lack of joy at the beginning of her freshman college year heartbreaking. How Allyson comes to life with the friendship of Dee and her Shakespeare class progresses the story well. Although this is a coming of age story is it above all else a romance, a passionate love story. Willem is everyone’s first love.
Out of the Easy is all heart. “Josie girl, she got a heart like an artichoke. A leaf for everyone.” When I first read this book last summer I cried at the end. Rereading it for this review, on Fat Tuesday for true atmosphere, I again cried. I am such a sap for sad endings. I loved the characters. I loved the spunkiness of Josie, her concern for Charlie, and her quest for a college education. The banter between Josie and Willie was hilarious yet touching. The villains in the story are so slimy. Her poor excuse for a human being mother is pure evil and Mr. Lockwell made my skin crawl.
Ruth Sepetys can write! She has crafted a historical fiction novel that captures the Southern charm of the city of New Orleans with all its highs and lows. Rising above the typical tired tale of a madam with a heart of gold she has written a novel with unique characters with a setting so strong you can envision every scene. Heart wins over Passion.
My vote is for Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys.