Rust & Stardustby T. Greenwood Published 07 Aug 2018
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|Publisher||St. Martin's Press|
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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.
"Rust & Stardust" Reviews
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...
From the blurb, I read that this was the true crime story that inspired, Vladimir Nabokov's “Lolita”.
But this is not a true-crime story in the traditional sense. I was eager to get started but had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that the book was based on a true story. I had to stop myself from Googling as I read. I wanted to wait until I was finished before I searched for anything about the actual crime.
An excellent read! I was hooked right from the start!
Camden, New Jersey (June 1948)
11 year-old Sally Horner is an inquisitive and happy child. She loves learning and even loves going to school, but she has a hard time fitting in. One day she sees the girls at school doing a blood sisters oath. Sally would do anything to be a part of that group. The girls know that Sally wants to be friends with them. They tell her she can be part of the group IF she steals something from Woolworth’s. Sally is hesitant but she follows through, slipping a five-cent black marble composition notebook into her sweater and hurries to leave the store. Sally doesn’t realize that stealing that notebook will change her life forever.
52-year-old Frank LaSalle is just out of prison. He sees Sally steal the notebook and decides to make his move. He claims to be FBI and tells Sally she’ll do as he says …unless she wants to be arrested and taken to jail. Terrified, Sally does as he asks.
The chapters alternate between Sally and many other characters. We read about Sally’s time with LaSalle, the places they lived, and the people Sally came in contact with. There are chapters from Sally’s mother, sister, and brother-in-law's point of view. They all struggle with guilt, anger, and blame. So many things could have changed the outcome of this story.
“But the even greater mystery, she thought, was Sally herself. What on earth would have made her agree to go with him, this fiend?”
This is an extremely chilling, emotional, and heartbreaking story that had me by the throat. I had to take a break now and then, but it wasn’t long before I picked the book back up again.
"While the series of events and the settings in which they occur mirror history ”, this is a work of fiction. She dreamed herself into Sally’s life. Events were dramatized, relationships constructed, the sequence of events changed.
Though disturbing at times, this was a brilliantly written and intense read that had me Googling for hours once I finished the book. I am really looking forward to reading more from this author.
I'd like to thank St. Martin’s books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
5, *rolls up podium, pulls down screen, powers up projector, starts powerpoint presentation* now let me tell you about a magnificent literary masterpiece stars!!!
I think I could've stabbed myself in the eye with a fork and it would've hurt less than this book.
Ok, all jokes aside - this isn't a funny book at all. It's heartbreaking and left me feeling empty and stunned but in awe of Greenwood and her ability in her craft. This is easily the newest member of my favorites shelf and any reader with an appreciation for story telling would do well to pick this up.
This is a work of historical fiction based off of the real case of Sally Horner and her abductor Frank LaSalle. After her abduction, LaSalle keeps Sally captive convincing her he is an FBI agent and dragging her all over the country as he evades the real FBI for 2 years. Needless to say, but to note for future readers - it's rare that old, creepy men kidnap young girls for reasons that aren't disturbing and traumatizing. These scenes are handled with the utmost care by Greenwood but could be triggering for some readers.
Susan woke up that September morning and felt a distinct chill run like ice water down her back. Her first waking thought was of Sally. This is how she'd woken every morning for over a year now. Not with the soft ascent from the depths of a dream but with the sharp bite, that cold blade of the truth. This is the cruelty of grief. The way it gathers strength in the night, blooming again and again and again. There was nothing she could do to combat it other than allow its icy fingers to dig in and then to move on.
Greenwoods command of language is nothing short of awe inspiring. For such a terribly heart-wrenching story the beauty of Greenwoods writing skill really shines through. We're given multiple POVs throughout, most notably that of Sally, her mother Ella, her sister and brother-in-law Susan and Al and unlikely friends she makes during her captivity. It was an incredibly clever way to show that while the saying is that it takes a village to raise a child - that same village is also irrevocably changed when tragedy strikes.
I was incredibly emotionally invested in this story and following the last line on the last page I delved into further research into the truth behind this work of fiction. I highly suggest not looking into the case if you're unfamiliar with it prior to reading it only if you're interested in being surprised by the ending. It feels crass to call anything in this book a "twist" but it took me by surprise and while I thought my heart had no more room to crumble, apparently I was mistaken.
How sad was it that grief had a shelf life, he thought. It’s only fresh and raw for so long before it begins to spoil. And soon enough, it would be replaced by a newer, brighter heartache - the old one discarded and eventually forgotten.
The entire read was very visceral and raw for me. I'd think in most forms of art (and this is a work of art) the goal is to make those interacting with your piece feel something. I can tell you, this book is steeped in emotion. I was left enormously impressed with Greenwood and I look forward to reading further works by her. For such a heartbreaking story, Greenwood honored Sally with this retelling and brought beauty to something so horrendous I wouldn't have thought it possible.
I finished this with the Traveling Friends and it seems we have all fallen into the same coulee (which, this is the first time this has happened). It's rare that books live up to the hype, but I'll let all readers know - this absolutely lives up to the reviews. I am one smitten kitten this now gets to sit on my bookshelf.
📓 "The world was a terrifying and dangerous place, a world that could convince you to offer up your own child to the devil without even thinking twice." 👧🏻
Rust & Stardust is based on the 1948 kidnapping of 11 yr. old Sally Horner by Frank LaSalle. This story was heartbreaking for me to read as my youngest daughter is 11 yrs. old. Even knowing that this was a work of fiction I couldn't read about Sally's years with her captor and not feel it emotionally. It gutted me, imagining what horrors this girl must have endured at the hands of this vile pedophile.
In T. Greenwood's work of historical fiction we are given her imagined renderings of the years Sally spent on the road with her captor. The events were fictional dramatizations, the relationships constructions of her imagination - this is not true crime & it never claims to be. Honestly, as I was reading I wished the whole thing were fictional and that it had never happened to little Sally. This poor lonely girl walked into a Woolworth's to steal something on a dare/initiation from a group of girls she desperately wanted to accept her. Little did she know that there was an ex-con & pedophile watching her who saw his perfect opportunity. Sally was young, gullible and vulnerable. Frank was despicable and preyed on her innocence.
This book is not an easy, light hearted read. Yet, Greenwood did add elements of hope to balance out the despair. I enjoyed the elements of hope and love she sprinkled into the book with the people that helped and came to love Sally along the way - Lena, Ruth & Sister Mary Katherine. I couldn't help but hope that the real Sally had some of that in her life during her ordeal.
It was beyond frustrating to read how Frank LaSalle always seemed to keep a step ahead of the law. I kept asking myself, how can no one see there is something wrong between them? Why won't Sally say anything? Yet, this really happened and he truly did get away with it for 2 years. So as implausible as some of the scenarios might have seemed - reality is sometimes just as farfetched isn't it? The mental manipulation, threats and physical harm victims are forced to endure in essence make them too afraid to flee or ask for help.
The book unfolds via various characters' point of views. We see first hand not only what Sally endures but also the devastation that her kidnapping causes her family. I found the book to be captivating and I spent quite a bit of time googling the real kidnapping so that I could relate what I was reading to what actually occurred. I'm not sure if that was a good or bad thing as it made the book seem all the more real. I was having trouble holding it together at various points while reading.
While the book was heart wrenching and even disturbing at times it was also undeniably moving. I was wholeheartedly invested in Sally and wanted nothing more than to be able to save her myself. Even knowing the outcome (I googled the case remember!) I couldn't put the book down - I had to finish it and see it through.
One last note that I have to mention - that pin & red ribbon on the cover - it isn't just meant to be eye catching. Once you read the book, you will see it is a meaningful symbol. It broke my heart! I absolutely love the symbolism of the cover. This is definitely a book that will remain with me for a long time.
Thank you to T. Greenwood, St. Martin's Press & NetGalley for providing an advance copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Sally Horner is under peer pressure because she wants to join her friends club and they want her to steal something from the local Woolworths store in Camden, New Jersey. This happened in the 1940's. She decides to steal a composition notebook and doesn't realize that Frank LaSalle is watching her. He was released from prison. Sally is only eleven years old and he abducts Sally, convincing her that he is a F.B.I agent, and can have her arrested in a minute, unless she does what he says.
This is based on the real life story that inspired Vladimir Nabokov to finish Lolita.
This is every parents nightmare and it is a heartbreaking novel. Frank LaSalle is a monster. Sally doesn't want anyone to know that she is kidnapped, and keeps secrets, because she is in fear that something worst could happen to her, and her family.
This is such a heartbreaking novel based on a true story that is every parents nightmare. Some true stories don't have a happily after. Even though this wasn't a happy story, I loved it. This is a historical novel and I am loving them more and more. It was a very suspenseful book.
I thought the author did a really excellent job on her characters. Sally was very naive but she also was a smart girl for her age. The author did a great job on Sally's emotions and actions. Sally led a tragic life. My heart went out to Sally and her family.
It was very difficult to read at times and I don't think this story will leave me anytime soon after reading it. It was a little dark and disturbing.
I thought it was very well written and it flowed so well. I read Where I Lost Her and thought that book was outstanding and I thought this one was done, just as good as that book. This one is a must read. I want to read all of her books. If you haven't read any of this authors books, go ahead and read one. It will give you an awesome reading experience.
I want to thank NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and T. Greenwood for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
FIVE SHATTERING STARS
I love great literature that moves you. You know? I mean isn’t that why we read? I want to be moved to cry, moved to think, moved to care. 2018 has been a banner blue ribbon year for the psychological suspense novel and now we have a crowning jewel of a book that crosses all the genres.
Rust & Stardust is unusual. If you’ve read any reviews, you’ve heard already this a sad story. Yes, it is absolutely heartbreaking. I can’t even describe how much your soul will ache. BUT it’s also suspenseful, historically relevant and fascinating. Rust & Stardust is not a true-crime book in the traditional sense. This crime of a young girl’s kidnapping in 1948 was headline making at the time and was the inspiration for Nabokov’s Lolita. (A fact that nauseates me. Remind me to check how many stars I gave that classic tale.)
I had a vague familiarity with Sally Horner’s name, but that’s all I knew when I began reading. I resisted every impulse to google, and I'm pleased to announce that in this case, I did abstain. I had no idea how the story would end and the suspense propelled me forward like a slingshot. I rarely put this book down. Sally crawled into my heart and I felt like I understood her. I cared about her—what’s going on, is she going to escape now? I was thinking about Sally constantly. And it’s been a long time since I had a book do that to me. Thank you, T. Greenwood, for this passionate reading experience!
I would describe this book as a cross between The Grapes of Wrath and THE CHANGELING movie starring Angelina Jolie. I know the time periods are a little off between these beautiful works of art, but the important thing IS the time period. It's the omnipresent lens that we view the story through and acts as much a pivotal character as anything else in the novel. There was a pervasive, deep societal innocence back then. Way before child molesters, mass shootings, and sex traffickers became our daily news. Sally was purely an innocent child, but also her mother, friends, teachers, even the police pushed back their doubts. "This could not be what it looked like." "This does not happen in America". In small ways, they all unknowingly contributed to the crime as much as Frank LaSalle, the deviant, corrupted everything he touched.
Rust & Stardust has all the atmospheric setting and attention to detail that Steinbeck, himself, was able to conjure on the page as the Okies trudged through the dust to California. Between the short, beautifully written chapters, Sally's abduction unfolds as seen by all the different characters involved. While you are very fearful for poor Sally, it is her family’s story of guilt, bitterness and loss that will shatter your heart.
FIVE STARS. I HIGHLY recommend Rust & Stardust. You will be hooked after the first few pages. I promise. Yes, there are some triggers for sensitive readers. However, Greenwood tackles the subject matter in such a consciously delicate manner that the story of Sally's life comes across as nothing less than poignant, authentic and human. And SERIOUSLY!! Don't google until you finish the book!!!!
Many thanks to the sweet people over at St. Martin's Press for sending me an early copy to read and review. All opinions are strictly my own.
5 Amazing & Heart-Wrenching Stars.
Rust & Stardust is a devastating novel based on the real life of Sally Horner, who at the tender age of eleven years old, was abducted by a man named Frank La Salle, who tricked her by claiming to be an FBI agent.
This is a rip your heart out novel that makes your breath catch in your throat and tears fill your eyes time and again.
On a dare from girls at school, Sally Horner attempts to steal a composition notebook from Woolworth’s and is caught by a man who claim to be an FBI agent. The man states that she must do as he tells her, or she will be arrested and taken to jail. Sally obeys as he is utterly convincing, especially to an eleven-year old, who is naive and trusting and she is in desperate need of attention. Sally’s mother Ella, has been overwhelmed ever since her husband died - thus when Frank La Salle, posing as the father of Sally’s school friend offers to take Sally off her hands for the summer, Ella doesn’t question it, not even when weeks and then months go by. Not when she gets letters from Sally stating how much fun she’s having. Ella has no idea it’s a ruse. Only when Sally’s older sister Susan and her husband Al start questioning things does Ella begin to worry. Thank goodness for Sally they did. Turns out Sally didn’t leave of her own accord - yet by the time it’s discovered, Sally and her abductor Frank, have fled.
Time and again - La Salle is two steps ahead. People notice that something seems amiss and yet, they do nothing. Perhaps a sign of the times or an issue with people not wanting to get involved, the effects are devastating. As you can imagine, Frank La Salle is not a nice man and unfortunately, Sally struggles in more ways than one. For two years she has feelings of guilt, anger, and complete and utter sadness and the depths of those feelings filled my soul. There were a few characters who were shining stars here. They are etched on my heart. One is Ruth, a woman who befriends Sally. Another is Al, Sally’s brother-in-law, who never gave up on the possibility of finding her. His heart is filled with solid gold.
Rust & Startdust broke me. Throat tight, cries escaping. This is not a book for the faint of heart. Though it dealt with a difficult subject, based on a true story, the details were handled extremely delicately. For that, I was extremely grateful.
I didn’t realize that it was based on a true story until I read the author’s note and then googled more about Sally Horner’s story. This novel read like fiction - it was flowy, beautiful, heartbreaking and poignant. T. Greenwood did a phenomenal job and I am in awe of her writing style.
This was a Traveling Friends read. Reading this with a group garnered incredible heartfelt discussions and really aided in my ability to get through this truly beautiful, yet incredibly hard to read novel. Thank you friends.
Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and T. Greenwood for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Published on NetGalley, Goodreads and Twitter on 8.18.18.