Cover Image: Rust & Stardust

Rust & Stardust

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Based on a real life abduction. This novel details the abduction of young Sally and her years in the grasp of her abductor. It is heartbreaking and gut wrenching but a good read. It will stay with you for years to come.
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In my role as English Teacher, I love being able to spend time reviewing books for our school library which I use to help the students make great picks when they visit us as well as running a library junior and senior book group where we meet every week and share the books we love and talk about what makes a great read. This is certainly a book that I'd be happy to display at the front as one of my monthly 'top picks' which often transform into 'most borrowed' between students and staff. It's a great read and ties in with my ethos of wishing to assemble a diverse, modern and thought-provoking range of books that will inspire and deepen a love of reading in our students of all ages. This book answers this brief in spade! It has s fresh and original voice and asks the readers to think whilst hooking them with a compelling storyline and strong characters  It is certainly a book that I've thought about a lot after finishing it and I've also considered how we could use some of its paragraphs in supporting and inspiring creative writing in the school through the writers' circle that we run. This is a book that I shall certainly recommend we purchase and look forward to hearing how much the staff and students enjoy this memorable and thought-provoking read.
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In a line in Nabokov’s Lolita,  Humbert wonders, “Had I done to Dolly, perhaps, what Frank Lasalle, a fifty-year-old mechanic, had done to eleven-year-old Sally Horner in 1948?” While the details of the cases are not exactly the same, Horner’s case is often referred to as an inspiration for the plot of Lolita: the horrible kidnapping and rape of a young girl by an older man that gets her away from her mother and spirits her around the country. I first read Lolita many years ago, and while the subject matter is horrifying, Nabokov’s use of language and pacing is absolutely unparalleled, and it’s an amazingly well-crafted book. I remembered that line from the book, but didn’t know anything else about Sally (not even that this was a real case) until I read The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman, which was released in 2018. Weinman tells us Sally’s story, pieced together from newspaper clippings and interviews of the few that still remember. In Rust and Stardust, T Greenwood tells a novelization of Sally’s story.

Sally grew up in a poor area of Camden, New Jersey, with her mother and older sister. Her father split before she was born, and her stepfather-- a good but troubled man suffering from depression-- killed himself when she was six, about five years before her abduction. Greenwood paints Sally as shy and lonely, a bit ostracized by the other kids and longing to be a part of the crew. That vulnerability is exactly what a man like Frank LaSalle would sense, prey on, and destroy. Eventually, Frank is brought to justice-- nearly unbelievable (in a good way) considering the technology (or lack thereof) in the 40’s, and how far they traveled-- and we see Sally reunited with her mother for a brief time before she’s killed tragically as a teenager in a car accident. Her life was so short and full of so much pain that it’s no wonder Sally becomes such a compelling figure.

Unfortunately, since I did read The Real Lolita by Weinman last Spring and found it very comprehensive, I didn’t feel that this novelization really added anything to Sally’s. By presenting this as a novelization rather than reporting, Greenwood had room and artistic license to really help us feel Sally’s experience, and I don’t think she took advantage of that space by telling us Sally’s story in a mainly flat style.. While I’m sure this is a matter of taste, her writing has a few beautiful points, but often tells us a bit too much rather than showing us, and I would have loved to spend more time in the heads of the characters rather than reading over facts of the story that I already knew or simply being told what the characters are supposed to be feeling. Poor Sally’s story is so horrifying that more poetry in the writing might’ve added some needed balance. Compared to the lyricism of Lolita (which admittedly is unfair-- I be horrified if my own writing was compared to Nabokov’s) or the detailed reporting of The Real Lolita, this was not a necessary addition for me and a bit of a letdown.
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This book was so disturbing it took me a good long time to actually make it through. I think I just had a hard time with the subject matter and never was able to see past that. I think it was a great book and well written, I just was never able to completely immerse myself in the story.
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Horrifying.

Gorgeous.

Atmospheric.

Distant.

Just a few words I'd use to describe Rust & Stardust. It really is wonderfully written in a lot of ways, but there is a certain level of removal from the truth of the subject matter that I believe readers will feel. Greenwood makes sure you're never quite in Sally's mind when these terrifying and agonizing things are happening to her, and so, I could never quite capture the experience. Perhaps that will be preferable to a lot of readers.

This book is inspired by the true story of Florence Sally Horner, who was the inspiration for Lolita, and who lived a ridiculously tragic life. Much like Steven Stayner (I Know My First Name Is Steven, Sally Horner (view spoiler), and so, you feel doubly awful about her kidnapping and subsequent rapes / abuse.

In the end, I think that the true story is much more riveting than this fictionalized account. The idea of a predator posing as an FBI agent, having the ability to kidnap a young girl, put her in school multiple times, and fool her so completely that she doesn't even try to escape? It seems unbelievable, but sadly - these things happen. I think of Elizabeth Smart who was within breathing distance of multiple people who could have helped her, or Jaycee Dugard, who worked outside of the home where she was held in later years... these women are terrorized so completely and efficiently that they become immune to the idea of ever leaving.

Rust & Stardust is a book worth reading, and it's certainly full of beautiful prose and disturbing details. While it never quite cuts to the blood of the matter, it does do a gorgeous job of skimming over the surface.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This was hard for me to read as a mother of three little girls. Frank la salle is an evil tricky man that sets his eyes on young  sally. She spends two years as his prisoner and I struggled to get through it. It felt too real for me. Great novel, just too hard of a subject for me to enjoy.
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I did not read about this book prior to reading it, so I did not know that it was based on a true incident. That makes the story even more compelling and gut-wrenching. An 11 year old girl is duped into going with a man she believes is an FBI agent who has arrested her. He turns out to be a pedophile. The content is sad and heartbreaking, yet so full of suspense that I could not stop reading. SPOILER ---- No, there's no "happy ever after" ending. But knowing that Sally Horner was a real person & this is a fictionalized version of her true story, that is fitting. For fans of gripping true crime or historical fiction. BTW -- this is supposedly the story that inspired Lolita.
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Be prepared for your heart to break.

This book was hard to put down, but hard to read at times. Well-written but heartbreaking and a little disappointing events. You will find yourself wanting to shake her family while also feeling so completely sorry for them. You wonder why the girl just couldn't see through his rouse at any point during her time with him, but so often you will answer you own questions. Tragedy looms on almost every page. If you have children, you'll probably want to squeeze them in a tight hug once you finish the last sentence. If you like books that tug at your heartstrings, this is a good choice.
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Wow!  I went in blind off of a recommendation, so I did not know this was based off of a true story until after I finished reading it.  This was one sad and messed up book, but I loved the journey!
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This book will be great for those will appreciate an homage to a modern classic, and can get past the real life tragic inspiration for it. Stay for good writing and honest, thoughtful exploration, but perhaps proceed with caution if it's just not your moment as a reader.
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How do I even sum up all the parts of this book?

I start by saying I wish I had read and reviewed this in a timely fashion so that I could have promoted it to more people before its day of publishing. I wish life hadn't thrown wrenches in the way to keep me from getting to it because man, oh man, was it amazing. 

This book allowed Sally Horner to be more than just a Wikipedia page even if this novelization of her life was fictionalized for the most part. She was a girl with a mom who tried to do her best by her and an older sister burdened with the responsibility of a mother in poor health and a younger sister she shouldn't have had to help raise. She was manipulated and mistreated all because her mother wanted to give her the opportunity to experience something outside the normal day to day of her life.  

It's somewhat difficult to separate the parts Greenwood created for her story from the parts that were actual facts in Sally Horner's life as much isn't available online about her. It's unfair how life turned out for her and how quickly it ended once she was finally home again. I wasn't sure I'd be able to finish this book but felt I owed it to Sally to read to the end. 

And now I'm sad and angry about the state of the world and the men who think they can just take whatever they want - the worst sort of men who have no regard for anybody's well-being and are sick in the head. Or maybe not sick so much as just downright corrupt.
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Rust & Stardust was a solid read, an extremely well-told story. Yet, somehow, I just did not love it. I tried, I wanted to. Both the real true crime case of Sally Horner and the inspiration behind Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita are incredibly fascinating to me... but this dragged for me. It's a bit hard to explain why.

In terms of pure literary writing, I'd give this something like 4.5 stars- it really is well done. Despite flipping from view point to view point, I was never lost.

But maybe that is where the problem lies for me? A lot of the story revolves around the views of those left behind when Sally was abducted, as well as those she meets along the way. Sure, we get into Sally's head, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. While the story is based on true events, the author herself is quick to note that this is very fictionalized. And I get that. Greenwood put a lot of work and research into the real story behind Sally Horner but the sad truth is a lot is missing. So she filled in the gaps.

And some of those gaps are filled in beautifully. I particularly enjoyed the look into Sally's life at the Good Luck motor park where she makes a few true friends. We get glimpses into how those friends view this odd little girl and the man parading as her father, and as frustrating as a real missing person's case, there were so many times that I wanted to scream "DO SOMETHING" at the book.

It is certainly a story of missed opportunities. Missed chances. Almost freedoms.

The things that happened to Sally made my stomach burn, though they were never graphic. They were written in an oddly beautiful way, a way that did not quite capture the true horror she was living. Maybe it's my love of true crime and darkness- but I wanted to see more. I wasn't looking for or expecting graphic descriptions, but I would have liked to feel more connected to her pain. More connected to Sally... and less connected to her mother (who genuinely made me want to scream).

As a survivor of long term abuse, I could absolutely relate. But maybe that's why I wanted more. Regardless, the story was incredibly well done and I would absolutely read Greenwood again for her excellent storytelling and prose. 

I originally was rounding my 3.5 stars down, but after sleeping on it and really thinking, I'm rounding up to 4. Sure, it was slow and frustrating as hell at times, but it was well done. And I was happy to see the acknowledgements in my ARC copy that the author did not roast Nabokov or his inspiration as she clearly created a work of fiction from the same source material.

I definitely recommend this title if you're a fan (or just have strong feelings about) Nabokov's Lolita. And if graphic situations make you run, you're probably pretty safe with this one. Despite the subject matter, it truly was not graphic. But I also may have a stronger stomach for that sort of thing than the average reader.
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It's hard to believe that a child would believe a stranger was law enforcement and be convinced to leave with them to avoid getting in trouble, especially in the "olden days" that this book takes place. But then I remember that kids are kids and never want to be in trouble or disappoint their parents or make them mad - and the era doesn't change that. 

Greenwood had me absolutely riveted by this story. To be able to tell the story of an actual event when the main characters are no longer able to give their insights and to do well speaks to her ability as an author.
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Somehow I haven’t gotten to read and review this book for an entire year and I’m sad I waited this long because it deserves to be read.  I received an ARC from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press almost a year to the day ago but instead of reading the ebook version, I went out and bought myself a hard copy because I knew it is something I would want to share with others.
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Review of Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood:
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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⚠️Trigger Warning⚠️
Contents of this novel include rape and molestation, abduction and kidnapping, mass murder, suicide and depression, and traumatic death
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A fictional story based on true events; this is a horrifying account of the two years that Florence “Sally” Horner was being held captive by kidnapper and pedophile Frank LaSalle.  While most of the events depicted in this novel were inspired by very real events, much of it was constructed by the authors imagination and was her attempt at imagining what Sally’s life was like during those horrible two years.  Greenwood did a wonderful job at using the backbones of a true story and fabricating a plot to bring to life this horrendous crime.  When reading through these pages, you can feel the pain that the real Sally experienced; and the very raw feelings that her family likely experienced.  It’s a heartbreaking and delicate story that Greenwood was able to capture with grace and just shows how amazing she is at her craft.  I had never heard of Sally Horner before but this novel brought me down yet another rabbit hole researching more about the life of this little girl.  Greenwood brought to light events that tragically and unfortunately happen everyday under our noses but thankfully found a way to keep the memory of Sally Horner alive.
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Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an independent and honest review!
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"Sally had read about lighthouses but had never seen one in real life. Lighthouses were made for sailors, the beacons of light to guide them home. She thought about home; maybe this shining light might lead her mother to her. It was foolish, she knew, but the idea brought an odd, momentary comfort."

This book definitely pulled at my heartstrings.  It is a historical fiction book based on the life of Sally Horner, who at the age of 11, was abducted by a man claiming to be an FBI agent.  This story inspired Vladimir Nabokov to write his controversial and iconic book, Lolita.  I admit, some of the details were difficult to deal with because I can't imagine a little girl living through this abduction, and it would be a parent's worst nightmare.  The author states that it is fiction based on true events.  In a way, it also reminded me a lot of the Elizabeth Smart abduction. 

The story is told through all different characters, and it is written well. It takes the reader on the road with Sally, and her vile abductor, Frank LaSalle.   It is not a light-hearted read, but it stuck with me throughout my day, even when I wasn't reading.  

I was given this book for my honest review, and I give it 4.5 stars.
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This book is emotional. This book will destroy you. This book is both horrendous and beautiful all at once. Based on the true abduction of Sally Horner, this story brings to light a historically accurate story with deep character development. While difficult to read at times, Sally shines through as a strong girl and her spirit pulls a reader through her difficult journey.
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Wow wow wow wow. I didn’t know that this book was based on the real-life kidnapping of Sally Horner when I requested it. This book is the heartbreaking story of a child, snatched by a pervert in 1948, desperately trying to figure out what’s happening to her. It’s all the more tragic for the elements of truth in it. Greenwood’s writing is lovely, buoying the darker elements. Told from the perspective of Sally, her family, and those she encounters, RUST AND STARDUST illustrates the ripple effects of tragedy and encourages us all to hug our loved ones a little tighter. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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I have such mixed feelings about "Rust and Stardust". It is a beautifully written story based on a horrific case that really did happen in the 1950s. 
11-year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook on a dare and doesn't realize that she has been seen by Frank LaSalle, a 52-year-old who has recently been released from prison. Frank takes advantage of Sally's naivety by telling her he is an FBI agent who can help her avoid being arrested if she does everything that he says. Of course, his intentions are less than noble. I think you get what I am hinting at here. The novel then details the next two years as Sally and Frank avoid the law while Sally suffers relentless mental and physical assaults by Frank. 
This is not an easy book to read but I feel like it should be read. People remember the case in the 1950s and it is believed that the book, "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov was based on the case. The one who seems to have been forgotten is Sally Horner herself and she should be remembered. I can't imagine the horror she lived through and what her life (though it was tragically cut short) was like afterward. "Rust and Stardust," tells the story from Sally's point of view and is compassionate in showing how it must have devastated her. I would definitely recommend this book but be prepared for a story that does not have a happy ending.
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"I am not a biographer, nor am I a true-crime writer; I am a novelist, and this is, in the end, a work of fiction. While the series of events and the settings in which they occur mirror history, the characters and their inner lives are entirely fabricated."
― T. Greenwood, Rust & Stardust

Rust & Stardust is based on the 1948 true event kidnapping of 11 year old Florence “Sally” Horner, and her captor, 52 year old Frank LaSalle. This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally, physically and sexually assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from New Jersey to California.

This was a difficult story to get through. There were times when I didn't think I can read any further. It was just so heartbreaking. Even though this is a work of fiction, the author did a phenomenal job on recreating the horrors that Sally must have endured. Not only does the author capture the harrowing experiences for the kidnapped, but he also created a flawless imagery of the impact an abduction has on those encountered along the way as well as those left behind. 

I went into the story blind, not knowing anything about Sally. I wish the author went into more detail on "the ending". I had to go back a page and reread it.

Even though this book was beautifully written, it dealt with a lot of dark subject matters. I highly recommend this book along with reading the author's note at the end of the book.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a copy of T. Greenwood's "Rust & Stardust" in exchange of an honest review.
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I am sorry for not reviewing fully but I don’t have the time to read this at the moment. I believe that it wouldn't benefit you as a publisher or your book if I only skimmed it and wrote a rushed review. Again, I am sorry for not fully reviewing!
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