Book Review: Rust & Stardust

Title: Rust & Stardust
Author: T. Greenwood
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Pages: 352
Buy This Book: Amazon/Audible (affiliate link)


“My car is limping, Dolores Haze,
And the last long lap is the hardest,
And I shall be dumped where the weed decays,
And the rest is rust and stardust.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

I almost don’t want to give this book a high rating, just because the content is so horrifying and heart-wrenching. But while it is uncomfortable and difficult to read due to the subject matter, this book is written in such a way that it is hard to put down. It is truly captivating, emotionally compelling, and I know that it will be sticking with me for a long time.

Rust & Stardust is based on the true crime story of the kidnapping of 11-year-old Sally Horner in 1948, in Camden, NJ that inspired the writing of the book Lolita. The story is written from the perspective of Sally, a sweet and innocent, albeit somewhat sheltered girl who is desperate to fit in with the other girls at her school. In a misguided attempt to win their acceptance, she agrees to steal a notebook from a local Woolworth store. When she is stopped at the door by a man claiming to be from the FBI, she believes she has no choice but to go with him and lie to her mother in order to stay out of jail. What follows is a two-year nightmare in which LaSalle takes Sally from place to place, moving across the US to stay ahead of the authorities, all while mentally, physically, and sexually abusing her.

This book is incredibly well-written. The author was able to write in such a way that it elicits strong emotions in the reader, without romanticizing LaSalle’s crimes or being overly graphic, especially in regards to the sexual content. There were times during reading it when I felt so disgusted, I just wanted to delete the file from my kindle and never think about it again. And there were many instances when I felt my heart breaking for that sweet little girl. However, there is more to Sally’s story than just pain and tragedy. This is a story of unspeakable horrors, but it’s also a tale of inner strength, the power of hope, and the unexpected kindness of strangers. There are several points during their travels that Sally and LaSalle come across kind souls who recognize the pain in Sally, little bright patches of light in her ongoing nightmare, who only need to be brave enough to step forward and ask the right questions.

Yes, this book is as tragic, heart-breaking, and terrifying as you would expect. But if you have it in you to read it, it’s an absolutely unforgettable read. I’m giving it a perfect 5-star score and have been recommending it to everyone I know!

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for my honest review.


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