School Library Journal suggested reading: Grades 9+up
Seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine lives in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The story takes place in 1950. Although she’s the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie was taken in years before by a local bookseller. She works in the bookstore after school and sleeps in an upstairs room in the shop.
Though Josie also works part time cleaning at the brothel, she wants a different life from her mother’s. Josie yearns to attend college but worries about how she can afford to attend. One afternoon, a customer comes into the store and discusses books with Josie. He encourages her to go to college. Josie, who has no idea who her father is, sees this educated, kind man as the dream father she’s always wanted. When he turns up dead a few days later, the mysterious death begins to point to her mother and her shady boyfriend.
Josie is drawn to two young men, Patrick, the bookstore owner’s literary-loving son, and Jesse, a good-looking boy from the lower side of town who also strives for a better life. When her dream of higher education looks out of reach, a man offers her big money if she’ll follow in her mother’s footsteps.
This book gives an intriguing insight to life in the New Orleans underworld of the 1950s and a young woman’s struggle to find a better life against all odds.