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
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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.
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.
📓 "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.
Had to finish, had to know
I’m not going to have the words to describe how heart-broken I was the WHOLE time I was reading this book. The writing flowed so perfectly, I couldn’t pull myself away from the story. I adored the little girl, Sally and was terrified for her. I wanted to hear her voice, this was her voice.
Based on the true kidnapping of 11-year-old Florence “Sally” Horner by the 52-year-old monster, Frank LaSalle. I did some research after I finished this novel and was able to read some newspaper articles and see some photographs of Sally.
When this abduction occurred in 1958, there were no cameras to help detectives or cell phones to trace children. It took police two years to catch up with this monster that had Sally. She endured much, but her voice is heard in this story. Awareness of sexual predators is much greater today, but sadly they do exist.
I’m glad to have met Sally through this story, although my heart is forever broken. The story was just so flawless and engaging that I finished it in two days. I couldn’t put it down. I had to find out how it would end.
Thank you to St. Martin's Press for my Advanced Reading Copy.
my monster roots are showing again. i am in the lonesome minority with this book, which has moved everyone but me to tears and praise. don’t get me wrong, i did not dislike it, but 1) i never rarely cry at books, and 2) my tastes run darker than this book.
“but…it’s about the kidnapping and abuse of sally horner, the 11-year-old girl nabokov wrote that book about. is that not dark??”
yes, that’s true. and while the subject matter is horrifying, the treatment of it is not. the use of the third person POV is part of it; the reader is already somewhat distanced from the situation, and the horrors are further diffused by employing multiple third-person POVs throughout the novel, where the shape of the story isn’t “these are the things happening to this little girl right now,” but “these are the ways in which a girl going missing affects those who knew her.” short answer, mostly guilt.
the actual abuse scenes are mostly written around, so it is less horrific than it could be (for the reader), and sally manages to find small moments of comfort and companionship as she’s being dragged across the country by her abductor.
my biggest takeaway from this (because it feels weird to say ‘the thing i most enjoyed') were the specifics of the real-life case, about which i knew nothing before reading this. although many many scenes were invented for narrative impact, the things that i believe were factual are surprising - that her mother handed her over to this man, that he allowed her to attend school(s) on their way across the country without her escaping or asking for help, and her ultimate fate (which i accidentally learned when i was just a few pages from encountering it in the book - oops).
the ease with which sally was manipulated by this man is horrifying and frustrating and makes you want to grab a time travel machine and create a million NO! GO! TELL! PSAs all over the past, and the one-after-another ways she was let down by well-intentioned, would-be rescuers (although i believe they were all apocryphal) are even more frustrating.
i just never felt drawn into this book, and while that’s probably a relief for most readers, considering the subject matter, it didn’t work for me. i already read at an emotional reserve because of my robot sensibilities, so it doesn’t bother me to look tragedy in the eye, and i tend to prefer overkill and melodrama to tasteful restraint.
i’m glad i read it, because i do think it is going to be a big deal book and a popular choice for book clubs. it held my interest and made me more inclined to read The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World when it comes out in september, and any book that leads you to another book is a winner in my eyes.
3.5 still-solidifying stars...
review to come.
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This is a novel based on the true crime story of the kidnapping of 11 yr old Sally Horner in 1948, in Camden, NJ that inspired the writing of the book Lolita. Sally’s kidnapper, Frank LaSalle was 52 yrs old and newly out of prison when he tricked her into thinking he was an FBI agent after she stole a notebook out of Woolworth’s, on a dare from a few classmates.
This was very hard to read because with her being only 11 years old, he was able to tell her so many lies to convince her she was in real trouble if she didn’t stay with him. He was abusing her mentally and physically while moving through many areas of the States. There are many people through their travels who try to help Sally, usually a little to late..
This is a heartbreaking novel and very suspenseful! If you are new to T. Greenwood, I think I would start out with a different book of hers. I just loved Bodies of Water, and I enjoyed The Golden Hour.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this advanced digital book!