Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date of publication: August 7th, 2018
Genre: General Fiction, Historical Fiction
Trigger Warning: Kidnapping, sexual abuse, physical abuse
Book synopsis (from Goodreads):
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 José, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.
As I stated in another review, I do not like historical fiction. It bores me. It takes a well-written book in that genre to captivate me. That is exactly what Rust & Stardust did. Captivated me. I couldn’t put this book down. I had to read what was going to happen to Sally. I needed to know if she was ever reunited with her mother. I needed to know what was going to happen to Frank.
What I wasn’t expecting, when I started reading this book, was the connection it had to Lolita. The author explains it in the author’s note at the end of the book. That was something that made me go “Hmmmm” when I read it. Without this awful kidnapping, that book wouldn’t have happened. It would have been burned.
The plot of Rust & Stardust was rather easy to follow. Sally was caught stealing a notebook from Woolworth’s as part of a dare from a group of girls she wanted to be friends with. Frank sees her, tells her that he is with the FBI and she will go to jail if she doesn’t do what he says. Within the next few days, Sally is on a train to Atlantic City with Frank. She convinced her mother that Frank was her friend’s father and he was taken her to the shore to meet up with her. When Sally isn’t home by the time Frank said she would be, Sally’s mother becomes concerned. Then frightened when the police tell her that Frank is a bad man (read the book to find out how bad). Sally is moved across the country. She is beaten and raped. She is under Frank’s control. Until she meets Ruth. But can Ruth help Sally escape Frank? Will Sally go home?
Rust & Stardust was told from 12 different POV’s. Yes, 12 different POV’s. I usually can’t handle more than 2 before I start getting confused. But, in this case, it worked. I was able to go between POV’s fine and wasn’t lost. What I didn’t like is that some POV’s were only once. Then they were dropped from the story. But those POV’s added more insight to what Sally was going through in the book.
I felt awful for Sally during the book. She went through hell with Frank. I wish that she had been rescued earlier in the book but it wouldn’t have matched up with real-life events. She did have an inner strength that was showcased throughout the book. No matter what Frank did to her, she was able to keep a small bit of what she used to be alive.
I could not believe that Sally’s mother went with her to the bus terminal and let her get on the bus with Frank. I know that the world was different back then. There was no stranger danger. People like Frank existed but were never given much thought. Still, as a mother of a 12-year-old, I couldn’t believe that she didn’t pick up that something was wrong. That Sally didn’t want to go with him. I also thought the way she treated Sally after she came home was awful. I had zero sympathy for her.
The author did a great job of covering the abuse scenes. She gave enough detail at what was happening but didn’t get graphic. The rape scenes were tastefully written. Still shocking and left me in tears but tastefully written.
I was not expecting what happened at the end of the book. I truly wasn’t. It threw me for a loop. In the last scene (not with Ruth but before that), I was praying that what happened was to someone else. I put my Kindle down and cried when I realized who it was. Very sad.
What I like about Rust & Stardust:
A) Captivating story
B) The tie to Lolita (which I didn’t know)
C) Sally’s strength
What I disliked about Rust & Stardust:
B) Sally’s mother. I had no sympathy for her
C) The end of the book.
I would give Rust & Stardust an Adult rating. There is sex but it is not graphic. There is mild violence. There is mild language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read Rust & Stardust.
There are trigger warnings for Rust & Stardust. They are kidnapping, sexual abuse, physical abuse. If you are triggered by any of these, I suggest not to read the book.
I would reread Rust & Stardust. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.
I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Rust & Stardust.
All opinions stated in this review of Rust & Stardust are mine.
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**