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Rust & Stardust

A gripping and heart-breaking novel of a 1948 kidnapping of a 11 year-old girl from New Jersery and her haunting two-year odyssey.



Sally just wanted a friend. In order to be a part of a group of girls at school, 11-year-old Sally Horner is forced to steal a notebook from the local Woolworth’s in Camden, New Jersey. She doesn’t know that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her, Frank convinces Sally that he is an FBI agent who will have her arrested unless she does exactly what he says. RUST & STARDUST 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.

The novel is based on the experiences of a real life kidnapping victim Sally Horner and her captor, whose story shocks the nation in 1948 and inspired Vladimir Nabokov to write his controversial and iconic Lolita.


RUST & STARDUST is haunting tale that every parent fears. It will shake you to your core to read this story from Sally’s perspective. T. GREENWOOD’s writing is phenomenal, presenting this horrific story in a beautiful and delicate way. You can’t help but fall in love with this naive, but brave little girl and your heart breaks for her everyday she is under the conniving spell of Frank

You become deeply invested in every character of this book. You want someone to do something. You feel the intense pain, struggle and embarrassment that Ella, Sally’s mother feels. You cheer when Al, Sally’s brother-in-law goes to Baltimore and knocks on doors, and you even laugh when Sally meets Lena, a circus performer in Dallas for the first time. My favorite character was the hairdresser, Ruth, who cuts Sally’s hair and was the first person in Sally’s journey to show her any care or motherly love. The story is robust, full of well-developed characters, and riveting dialog.

The title Rust & Stardust comes from a famous line in Lolita, and the words are independently masterfully woven into the story. This emotionally profound and eloquent novel is one of my favorite reads in 2018 and will not soon be forgotten.

This is the first T. GREENWOOD book I’ve read, and I am so looking forward to reading more of her work. I have already purchased The Golden Hour(2017). Greenwood is the author of twelve novels. She has won three San Diego book awards and she teaches creative writing for San Diego’s Writer’s Ink and online for The Writer’s Center. She and her husband and two daughters live in San Diego, California.

Thanks to Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher St. Martin’s Press

Published August 7, 2018

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