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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (2,951 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ruta Sepetys Narrator: Lauren Fortgang Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2013 ISBN: 9781101601723
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 It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.



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Quotes & Awards

  • “Sepetys writes…with rawness and palpable emotional unease.”

    New York Times

  • “Another taut and charged historical novel…The sensual yet rigidly class-based setting is a real standout, and Sepetys has also built a stellar cast…Readers will find Josie irresistible from the get-go and will devour the sultry mix of mystery, historical detail, and romance.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “[A] superb performance.”


  • “Step right onto the rough streets of the New Orleans French Quarter, circa 1950…With a rich and realistic setting, a compelling and entertaining first-person narration, a colorful cast of memorable characters, and an intriguing storyline, this is a surefire winner. Immensely satisfying.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jordan | 2/16/2014

    " After reading Between Shades of Gray, I was skeptical that this work could measure up. I am happy to admit my wrongs. Ruta Sepetys creates a strong female lead character in Josie Moraine, daughter of a swindling prostitute in 1950s New Orleans. While Josie is the central figure, she is surrounded by a cast of lovable characters, Charlie, the writer gone mad, his son, Patrick, who harbors a secret that is so great, it forces him to leave town, Willie, the tough-as-nails madame, and Cokie, Willie's driver/jack-of-all trades. And therein lies my one criticism of this work (and depraved it of a fifth star), the loose ends with the secondary characters, particularly Louise and Cincinnati, remain untied. Perhaps when the final copy has gone to press, Sepetys will have knotted them up nicely. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Renee | 2/8/2014

    " You are going to have know your reader before you give this book to a teen to read -- or be ready for some push back. The moms a prostitute. Other than that -- it's got all the excitement and mix of colorful characters that make it a page turner. I was sort of reminded by a movie starting Natalie Wood, when she was a teenager living on the wrong side of tracks, but basically she was of good character, just had a mom that wasn't. The young woman in this story, is bright, and is looking to 'get out the easy'. I love the relationships she has with these folks in the quarter -- it's her family of sorts and everyone looks out for each other. I could totally see this as one of those movies that young girls would watch on lazy Saturday afternoons. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ms.G | 1/31/2014

    " If you're tired of young adult dystopian fiction, then this is the perfect book for you. Ruta Sepetys, author of Between Shades of Gray, does not disappoint with this story about New Orleans and the prostitution business that is an integral part of its culture and fabric in the 1950's. Josie is the daughter of a prostitute, who is more swindler than mother and more hardship than help. The challenge for Josie is to try and distance herself from a community of prostitutes, townsfolk, and gangsters, while keeping house for the most famous Madam in town. With one foot in the French Quarter and another in the sanctuary of a bookstore with her dear friend Patrick and his father Charlie, Josie struggles to find her way out of New Orleans and onward to Smith College in New England. Of course it's not so easy; especially when those prostitutes and townsfolk that you're running away from are some of the best people and friends you'll ever have. It's a town of people who lift you up and bring you down, but who make life so much sweeter and so much more complicated for 17-year-old Josie. Rutya Sepetys succeeds in putting us right there in the Big Easy; having us feel all the emotions that come with an extraordinary cast of characters and a great story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gill | 1/23/2014

    " Although clearly aimed at the young adult market I found this a fast-paced and engaging read. Josie, the teenage protagonist, goes through tough times to find her own identity in 1950's New Orleans. I would have liked more description of the atmosphere & locations but given the target audience I can see why this was left out. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ann Williams | 1/4/2014

    " I absolutely LOVED this book! It is definitely for my high school friends and for parents, not 4th graders. The characters,plot, and plot twists had me hoping that the story would never end. The setting made me long for New Orleans and brought back many fond memories of my time spent in "The Big Easy." These characters will stay with me for a long time. I highly recommend this book to all of my high school friends, don't miss it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jayla | 12/18/2013

    " Pretty good! Though to me, it wasn't as amazing as "Between Shades of Grey". The beginning was really interesting, but then it kind of fizzled out as the story went on. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alicia | 12/14/2013

    " Wonderful read! Would have given it 5 stars but there was one aspect of the book that I didn't think was necessary for the author to add and the aspect wasn't as fully developed as it should have been. Overall, still a great read and I look forward to the author's next book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stacy Brown | 12/6/2013

    " Best. Book. Ever. My new favorite author! It's a love song to New Orleans. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vanessa | 12/3/2013

    " Loved the setting, characters, and the story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beth | 12/1/2013

    " This YA book started out with a unique storyline, but seemed to lose steam toward the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Autumn Warren | 10/17/2013

    " It was beyond awesome. That's one of the biggest compliments I can give a book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Megan McDade | 9/26/2013

    " This book was amazing I could not put it down! I also love the cover! Full review to come! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Suzanne | 9/20/2013

    " I'd like to make that a 3 1/2 stars! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 9/8/2013

    " Liked this story set in old time New Orleans. Lead character well developed and a colorful cast. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Claudia | 8/22/2013

    " Entertaining and interesting but not up to the quality of Between Shades of Grey. Definitely not suitable for middle school reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donalyn | 6/23/2013

    " I enjoyed the characters in this story, but I wonder which teen I would give a book about a New Orleans whorehouse. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steph Campbell | 6/23/2013

    " This is the first non-romance I've read in I don't know how long. It reminded me why I love fiction. Beautiful writing; amazing story; characters that you never want to let go of. This book, as with Sepetys first release, Between Shade of Gray, was perfect. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emilia | 4/28/2013

    " Not as good as her other book, but that is quite a tough act to follow. I really enjoyed this book as well. Much quicker read. Two days, stayed up late last night reading. Lately it takes something good to cut into sleep time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joanne Peterson | 3/13/2013

    " NOLA in 1950 coming of age, escaping that which seems pre-ordained ending on sad but uplifting (flip a coin/either or) emotions in the principle character. Guess all good things are hard won. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Smoesinger | 2/8/2013

    " Loved this book! Pacing is perfect and the characters are so endearing, could not put it down. "

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About the Author
Author Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. She is the award-winning author of several books of historical fiction and best known for her novel Between Shades of Gray, which was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the Carnegie Medal. Her work is published in over forty-five countries and thirty languages.

About the Narrator

Lauren Fortgang, a graduate of Fordham University’s Theater Program, is an actress, costume designer, and narrator. She has recorded everything from video games to textbooks. Her audiobook narrations have earned AudioFile Earphones Awards and placed her as a finalist for an Audie Award in 2014.