Happy Tuesday and Happy Publication Day to Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood! I said in my last Can’t Wait Wednesday post that T. Greenwood is an auto-read author, and I had delayed gratification for far too long in reading Rust & Stardust. I am happy to say I was not let down, and in fact, Sally’s story left me captivated and heartbroken at the same time. Inspired by true events that also led to Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Rust & Stardust is an enthralling and emotional story.
Even though I knew this would be a heart-rending book, I trusted Greenwood to write in a respectful way without being sensationally graphic, and somehow, even knowing the devastating ending ahead of time, there were peeks of hope that kept this from being an overwhelmingly bleak book.
In Camden, New Jersey in 1948, 11-year old Sally Horner is desperate to be seen and have friendships, to be part of the group. In order to be initiated into a group of girls, she is told she has to steal a notebook from Woolworth’s. Frank LaSalle, a seedy and convicted felon recently released from prison, catches her in the act and misleadingly portrays himself as an FBI worker.
What follows is the two tragic years Sally spends with LaSalle, as they travel cross country, and he repeatedly abuses her.
Even though I knew how it would unfold because it is a story based on true events, at each step, I was hoping, practically pleading, for a different outcome for Sally. There are opportunities for help and near misses, and each time, I kept hoping.
T. Greenwood uses a deft and sensitive hand along with beautiful writing to paint this somber story with respect to Sally Horner and her family and to give them a voice in these disheartening and devastating events. The Author’s Note is not to be missed and shows the heart of the author.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the advance review copy. All opinions are my own.
Camden, NJ, 1948.
When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth’s, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says.
This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.