Title: Real Easy
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Tinder Press
Publication Date: 18th January 2022
It’s 1999, and Samantha has danced for years at the Lovely Lady strip club.
She’s not used to taking anyone under her wing – after all, between her disapproving boyfriend and his daughter, who may as well be her own child, she has enough to worry about. But when Samantha overrides her better judgment to drive a new dancer home, they are run off the road. The police arrive at the scene of the accident – but find only one body.
Georgia, another dancer, is drawn into the investigation as she tries to assist Holly, a detective with a complicated story of her own. As the point of view shifts from police officers and detectives to club patrons, the women circle around a list of suspects, all the while grappling with their own understanding of loss and love.
As they get closer to the truth they must each confront a fundamental question:
How do women live their lives knowing that men can hurt them?
I am so grateful I had the chance to read this phenomenal book early! The story follows primarily a couple of dancers at a strip club in 1999 but includes the perspectives of numerous other characters. Samantha is a popular dancer at the club with a boyfriend and his child, who Samantha treats like her own. She takes a young new dancer sort of under her wing and ends up driving the young woman home one night. They are run off the road by another car and the police discover only one body at the scene. From there we switch focus to another dancer, Georgia who becomes embroiled in the police investigation and also tries to figure out what she really wants from life.
I honestly loved this book – it was my first read of 2022 and will certainly be one of my top books of the year. Real Easy is heartbreaking, gritty, honest, emotional and unrelentingly engrossing. There are so many different perspectives, with other dancers, the police detectives and the bouncers all becoming the focus of different chapters and it worked beautifully. It created a viscerally vivid portrait of a place and time – with so much of the action revolving around The Lovely Lady strip club – a place of danger and seediness but also a home of sorts to some of these women. I found every single woman in this book deeply affecting, especially Samantha. The very sad fact that women are always at risk from men who could hurt them or even kill them is a heart-wrenching truth which permeates the entire book. Real Easy is at times harrowing and traumatic but there is also a real sense of humanity and possibly even Hope present as well. I could not recommend this book more highly. Strikingly written and sensationally good.
I kindly received an e-copy of the book via Netgalley. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.