“Greenwood’s glowing dark ruby of a novel brilliantly transforms the true crime story that inspired Nabokov’s Lolita. Shatteringly original and eloquently written....So ferociously suspenseful, I found myself holding my breath.” Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You
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 minuteunless 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.
Based on the experiences of real-life kidnapping victim Sally Horner and her captor, whose story shocked the nation and inspired Vladimir Nabokov to write his controversial and iconic Lolita, this heart-pounding story by award-winning author T. Greenwood at last gives a voice to Sally herself.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The girls at school had a club, a secret club with secret rules. Beyond the playground under the trees' dark leaves, they pressed their fathers' stolen blades against their plump thumbs, watched the blood bead before pressing their flesh together and swearing loyalty. Sally Horner spied them from the swings where she dragged her shoes in the dirt, her fingers pinched by the chains. She studied them as they stood in a circle, sucking the metallic blood, tongues working over those important wounds. She strained to hear their whispered oath, this sisterhood spell. Mesmerized.
At lunch later, she peered at them from the table in the cafeteria where she normally sat alone, nibbling at her butter sandwich or peeling back the golden skin of her butterscotch pudding. But her need to understand what sort of coven had been formed underneath those red oaks was irresistible, though it took her nearly ten minutes to pick up her lunch tray, go to their table, and speak to them.
"Mind if I sit here?" she said softly to the one whose hair reminded her of the white fluff inside of a milkweed pod, Irene, who looked up at her and then turned back to her friend.
"I saw you at recess," Sally tried again, smiling.
"You didn't see nothin'," the one with the red hair said. Bess was her name.
"I did. Over by the trees. It looked like —"
"What are you, some sort of spy?" Irene hissed. Her eyes were icy blue.
Sally shook her head, and cast her gaze down at her shoes. This was a mistake.
"It's a club," the third one chimed in. Sally looked up, and the girl was smiling at her. She had black hair and dark blue eyes, a widow's peak. She reminded Sally of Elizabeth Taylor. "A secret sisterhood. We took an oath."
Sally thought of her own sister, Susan, living all the way in Florence ever since she and Al got married. Sometimes at night Sally would wake up, expecting to see her in the other bed, only to remember that she didn't live there anymore. It made her heart feel hollow, like an empty tin can.
"You can sit here," the dark-haired girl offered, gesturing to an empty seat.
Nervous, Sally sat down, and Irene huffed, reluctantly scooting her chair over to make room, metal feet scraping against the linoleum.
"I'm Vivi," the brunette said, and reached out to shake Sally's hand.
"You're in our grade, right?"
"She's been in our grade forever," Bess said, rolling her eyes. "She's the one whose daddy got drunk over at Daly's and then —"
"Would you like to join our club?" Vivi interrupted.
"Really?" Sally said.
"Vivi," Irene scolded, but Vivi scowled.
"I mean, that would be keen," Sally said, trying not to seem too eager. "If you're accepting new members."
Irene sucked the last of her milk through her straw and stood up, hands on hips, elbows sharp as blades. "Well, she'd have to be initiated. Not just anybody can join."
"What do I gotta do?" Sally asked.
"You need to steal somethin'," Bess said.
"From the Woolworth's." Irene seemed to improvise. "After school."
"Oh," Sally said, suddenly thinking this wasn't such a good idea. What if she got caught? Once, when she'd accidentally walked out of the market holding an apple she forgot to pay for, her mother marched her back in with a nickel and an order to confess her crime and made her do the dishes every night for a week to earn that nickel back.
Vivi looked at her apologetically.
Bess snapped, "You want to be in the club, this is whatcha gotta do. Otherwise, you can just forget about it, and stop followin' us around."
Sally felt her skin flush hot. She knew she wasn't like these other girls, the ones with glossy hair and perfect smiles. Sally wore homemade dresses and hand-me-down shoes, while these girls got their clothes from the J.C. Penney. The shiny copper pennies they put in their loafers caught the sun. They were the keepers of light, Sally thought. Shining and bright.
These were the girls who lived inside the pretty houses near the school, with picket fences and lacy curtains. She could practically smell their pot roasts, their buttery potatoes, hear Doris Day's sweet clear voice on the radio through the open windows. Sally imagined their aproned mothers and gentle, soft-spoken fathers inside. Sally, on the other hand, lived alone with her mother in a run-down row house on Linden Street, both her real daddy and her stepfather, Russell, long gone. She knew the stories people told about her stepfather, heard the whispered speculations. (They heard he did it with a rope, in the closet. With a shotgun, in the basement. Someone, somewhere said no, he just got drunk as always and wandered from Daly's Café onto the train tracks one night — this one the tender, awful truth.)
She knew they whispered behind her back, mocked her. But Sally still ached to belong, and studied those girls with the same wonder and love with which she studied the laws of the universe. She thought them the sun, and herself simply a small and quiet planet in orbit around them. And she forgave them their meanness. It was no different than forgiving the sun its heat, the moon its tidal pull. This was simply the nature of girls. She knew they couldn't help themselves, and oddly, it made her love them all the more.
School would be out for the summer in just a couple of days. Perhaps, if she was in their club, she wouldn't have to spend her whole summer alone, the long hot days ahead something to look forward to rather than dread.
"Okay," she said, nodding and then thrusting her chin up confidently, surprised by her sudden gumption. "I'll do it. And then I can be in the club?"
"Sure," Irene said, shrugging, but she wasn't looking at her. "Meet us after school."
* * *
Usually, the last bell of the school day was a reason for celebration. But now, as she descended the school's front steps to the sidewalk, Sally felt dread in her stomach like a peach pit swallowed whole.
Those girls who never noticed her teemed about her now. There were six or seven of them suddenly, their faces bright with anticipation, with something like friendliness. As they smiled and chattered like happy birds gathering around a wriggling worm, she felt the pit begin to soften.
On any other day, she would have walked to the library or all the way home, alone, satchel swinging at her side, shoes pinching her toes, thighs rubbing together uncomfortably beneath her skirt. But today, she was not alone, not lonely. Instead, she was swept up in the cheery and excited swell of these girls, which carried her down North 7th Street toward Federal. They were like bees, she thought, buzzing and fairly harmless alone, but thrumming and dangerous as a group. She was caught up in the magic of this swarm as they made their way to the Woolworth's.
At the corner of Broadway and Federal, the girls dispersed. Some went into the five-and-dime and sidled up to the counter to order cherry Cokes or root beer floats. Others lingered outside on the sidewalk, kicking at loose pieces of pavement before ducking around the corner to light cigarettes stolen from their mothers' packs. Sally wished she could stay with them, waiting for some other girl to be initiated.
"Go on," Irene, said, giving her shoulder a sharp little shove through the front door.
Inside, the fans chilled her. She swallowed hard and walked slowly beyond the lunch counter, empty save for Vivi and Bess and, at the end nearest the door, a hawklike man hunched over a bowl of split-pea soup. Irene joined them, and Vivi glanced up at Sally and winked. It made her skin burn hot again, but also gave her courage.
Past the lunch counter, she noticed the garden display and thought of her stepfather and the way he used to care for the postage stamp–sized garden in front of their row house. How he'd teased tulips from the soil, azaleas, and even once a single large zucchini. Her fingers skipped across the seed packets: radishes, sweet corn, sugar peas. One of those envelopes would be easy, wouldn't it? Though maybe too easy to count? She felt as if she'd been invited to play a game, but that nobody was telling her the rules. Metal watering cans, rubber boots, and garden gloves. She walked down row after row of toys (BB guns and Matchbox cars and a Madame Alexander doll dressed up like Jo from Little Women). Her hand reached out and touched the doll, wishing for a moment it were her own. But she quickly withdrew her fingers, ashamed. What was she thinking about dolls for? She was eleven years old now.
She found baby clothes and baby bottles, cloth diapers and bibs. Her sister, Susan, was having a baby soon. Sally could hardly wait to meet her little niece or nephew. She wondered if she might find something here for the baby, some trinket or stuffed toy. But thinking of her sister made her think of her mother, and the peach pit returned. Her mother with her sorrow and her pain. Usually, Sally had made it her job to not cause her any grief. She tried not to think about how all of this would hurt her mama.
Shaking the thought out of her head, she walked quickly toward the stationery aisle and studied the pens and pencils. Again, probably too easy. But then, as she ran her hands over the fat pink erasers, she got an idea. At the five-cent display was a stack of black marble composition notebooks. Something she could use later. She liked to write stories, or maybe the club would need a secretary to take minutes at their meetings. She had beautiful handwriting. Everyone said so.
She quickly peered around. The man at the end of the lunch counter was pushing a dollar bill across with his check, tipping his hat to the waitress. The girls were still giggling and swinging their legs. Vivi smiled at Sally again and nodded.
Sally glanced back at the display of notebooks, picked one up, and touched the smooth surface with her thumb. She thought about blades, about the girls inviting her into their sisterhood. How they would let her press her thumb against theirs, their blood mingling, bonding them to each other. Blood sisters. She shivered at the thought of the slice that would splice them together forever.
Before she could give it another thought, she slipped the notebook inside her cardigan sweater and, crossing her arms, hurried toward the front of the store. There. She had done it. She felt giddy, light. She could hardly wait to get outside the store and show the girls. She headed toward the lunch counter where Vivi and the others were finishing their Cokes; they looked up at her as she neared. But just as she began to make her way to the front door, the man who had been eating the bowl of soup stood up and stepped in front of her.
"Slow down there, sweetheart," he said. She kept her head lowered and nodded. But as she tried to pass, he reached out and grabbed her by the arm. When she looked up, he was staring at her, a serious expression on his face. His eyes were nearly colorless, the blue of the thin milk her mother made from a powdered mix. He was wearing a faded fedora, which partially obscured his long, thin face.
"I'm sorry, miss, but you're going to need to come with me."
"What?" she asked.
"I saw what you just did."
"I'm sorry ... I didn't mean ...," she stuttered, pulling the composition book out from her sweater, pushing it toward him. "I was gonna pay, I didn't plan ... I just forgot ..."
"Oh, I see," he said, grabbing the notebook from her. "You didn't planon stealing it, eh? You also probably didn't plan on running into somebody from the FBI, either. You know what that is, miss?"
FBI? Of course she'd heard of the FBI. They were like the police, only more important. They had something to do with the president, didn't they? Or maybe she was just thinking of FDR? The one before President Truman?
"Yes, sir?" Her heart hammered in her chest; she held her breath.
"Well, I'm an FBI agent, and you, little miss, are under arrest."
With the man still clutching her arm, Sally scanned the lunch counter, looking for the girls, for Vivi, the nice one, to help her explain. It was all just a dare. An initiation. She hadn't meant any harm. But the girls were gone. And there weren't even any other customers milling about the store anymore. Where had everyone gone? She was alone now with this man and his long cigarette-stained fingers digging into the soft, pale mohair of her sweater.
"I'm gonna need for you to come with me," he said, tugging at her arm to pull her along.
"But my friends ..." The word seemed to mock her. Where were thesefriends now? "I can't, please ..."
"The courthouse is across the street, you know," he said. "They'll know what to do with a juvenile delinquent like you."
"No, please, sir."
They were walking together now toward the front of the store. She tripped, and he tugged at her arm, righting her. He tossed the composition book down on a display case and wordlessly guided her to the front door, holding it open with his free hand for an old woman who was coming in.
Outside, they stood on the street; across the way, the courthouse loomed before her. Was that where the jail was?
He still clutched her arm, standing close to her before gently nudging her down the street and around the corner into an alleyway. It smelled of garbage and motor oil.
"What's your name?" he asked, his voice like gravel. "I'll need it for my report."
"Florence Horner, sir. But I'm called Sally for short. Are you taking me to jail?" She wondered if it was even possible for her to go to jail. She was just a little girl. Her stepfather had spent the night in jail more than once, put in the drunk tank. She'd heard her mother whispering into the phone. Sally had been little the first time, thought her mother had said "dunk tank," and imagined her stepfather sitting happily waiting for someone to throw a bean bag at the target and send him plummeting into a tub of cold water. When she asked her mother why he had gone to the carnival without her, her mother had shaken her head. "He ain't at no circus. Fool's got himself locked up in jail again." The only other things Sally knew about jail she learned from the pictures she saw at The Savar: Abbott and Costello, black-and-white-striped uniforms, limbs tethered to heavy balls and chains.
Suddenly, a policeman came strolling down the alley, and her heart jumped to her throat. Would the FBI man hand her over? Would the policeman put her in handcuffs right there?
"Afternoon, Officer," the FBI man said, tipping his hat as the policeman passed the entrance to the alleyway and spotted them.
Sally's eyes filled with tears.
"Everything okay here?" the officer said, stopping.
"Sure thing, sir," the FBI man said.
"What's the matter, little girl?"
Sally shook her head.
"My daughter's just upset I won't buy her an ice cream. Spoil her dinner. Her mother would string me up."
The officer chuckled, and nodded. "I see." He came over, bent down so he was eye level with Sally, and wagged his meaty finger in her face. "You do as your daddy says, you hear?"
Sally nodded, tears escaping and rolling down her cheeks. Why was this man lying?
The officer stood upright again. "Got three of my own," he said to the FBI man. "Got me wrapped right around their little fingers."
The FBI man threw his head back, and his laughter sounded like a gunshot.
"You two have a nice afternoon," the policeman said, and walked back to the street, whistling.
"Listen up, Sally," the FBI man said, watching the officer walk away. He smiled a little, and she noticed his crowded teeth, like long thin tombstones.
"Yes, sir?" Sally said, blood pounding in her temples.
"You are a lucky girl," he said, peering in the direction the officer had gone before looking back at her. "Very lucky indeed that it was me who caught you instead of another G-man."
Lucky? This was one thing she knew she was not.
"Anybody else would have handed you right over to the law. But I like you, Sally," he said, still grinning. "And I'm pretty sure you're usually a good girl. So I'm willing to strike a deal with you."
She nodded. She was a good girl. Anything. She'd do anything at all if he'd just let her go home. He didn't loosen his grip on her arm, though.
"Here's the thing," he said, glancing up and down the alley again. "I want to keep you out of the reformatory, so what I need for you to do is to check in with me from time to time. Sort of like a parole officer. Have you heard of that before?"
Sally nodded, though she had no idea. It must be something to do with the FBI.
"Where do you go to school, Sally?"
"Northeast School," she said. "I'm just finishing the fifth grade. It's on Vine Street."
"Okay then," he said, and finally released her, though it felt like his fingers were still digging into her arm. This was how she felt when her mother had a bad morning and clung to her as she ascended the stairs before returning to bed. Sometimes, she'd feel her mother's clutching fingers all day long.
"Can I go home now?" Sally asked, and immediately regretted being so bold.
His face darkened, he hesitated, and for a moment she worried he'd changed his mind.
"Here's the arrangement," he said, his voice low and gritty like dirt. "You don't say a word of this to nobody. I'd be in a lot of trouble with the FBI if they found out I'm taking mercy on you after what you've done. Do you understand me?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Rust & Stardust"
Copyright © 2018 T. Greenwood.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Camden, New Jersey: June 1948,
Atlantic City, New Jersey: June 1948,
Baltimore, Maryland: August 1948,
Sister Mary Katherine,
Sister Mary Katherine,
Sister Mary Katherine,
Dallas, Texas: April 1949,
San Jose, California: March 1950,
Police Chief John Darling,
Camden, New Jersey: April 1950,
Camden, New Jersey: 1951–1952,
Wildwood by the Sea, New Jersey: August 1952,
Camden, New Jersey: August 1952,
Susan and Al,
Sister Mary Katherine,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Never heard of Sally Horner until I read this book. Although its a novel, it reads it reads like a very well written true crime book.
This is historical fiction based on a stunning and traumatic child abduction exposed years before the American public was ready to accept that pedophiles walked among us. In Camden, New Jersey, 1948, Sally Horner was stolen from her home by a lecherous old creep who successfully convinced her he was with the FBI and she was under arrest. Frank LaSalle maintained this entrapping lie for over two years. The author, Tammy Greenwood, based the timeline, locations and as much of the personal drama on facts. The personal feelings, emotions, and glimpses into the thoughts of each character can’t be proven, but Greenwood has done an absolutely stunning job of recreating the atmosphere with conviction and respect. This is such a sad read because, of course, you know how it will end. To avoid a spoiler, I won’t go into detail. I had read about this case years ago, so I went into it prepared. But that didn’t make me willing. This young little girl was stripped of everything a child holds dear, especially her innocence. The sad shell of a young teen who returned home is gut-wrenching. The reaction and treatment of her family and public is deplorable; no one can believe she was duped so easily or LaSalle was so enthralled by an 11-year old child. Surely she was promiscuous; obviously, she had some mental issues that attracted him. As stated earlier, the American public wasn’t ready to accept that these creeps existed and lived among us in 1948. I strongly recommend this book. It’s probably best if you haven’t studied the history of the case, to avoid that until you’ve completed this book. It's heart-wrenching. To this day I feel sadness and loss for the child who just wanted so badly to be accepted by the popular girls at school. (I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for making it available.)
It's 1948 and eleven year old Sally Horner just wants to fit in with some of her classmates. She accepts a dare to steal a notebook from the Woolworth store. That one decision will change Sally's life forever. This book is based on real life events and it's a heartbreaking and emotional read. The author did an excellent job bringing Sally Horner to life and I will never forget her.
Wow! I read this intense novel that is based on a factual account beginning in 1948. in two days. I could not stop thinking about the main character named Sally Horner. It had me feeling anger, hate, sadness, and often in tears as I turned each page. Sally, is a young girl who was taught by her mother to always be honest and respect adults. Her only fault was was desperately wanting friends and to belong to a club. In order to join this girls club, she was told she had to steal one item from the local Woolworth's store in Camden, New Jersey. The nightmare begins here as she is caught stealing and because of her honest nature, believes she needs to go to court with the man who says he works for the FBI and abducts her. She knows her mom will be disappointed in her and does not tell her what has happened. This book was definitely well written and in great detail. I got caught up in the journey of Sally, her new friends she met, and her family who were left in New Jersey to wonder where she was and continue to live their lives in the hope that Sally would soon return.
Fiction, based heavily on a real life, true crime story, Greenwood delivers a harrowing and heartbreaking account of Sally Horner’s tragically short life. A compassionate, humanitarian look at the victim’s side of this sick crime is intriguing and indelibly sad. You will definitely be thinking about this one long after you put it down. *I received an arc from the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review
While not a "true crime" this compelling work of historical fiction based on real people and events broke my heart in a million pieces. In 1948 when 11 year old Sally Horner was abducted and held captive for 21 horrific months, news did not travel so quickly then as it does today. There were no amber alerts to cell phones, no world wide web on which to upload pictures of the missing and their captors, no national sex crime registry in which to keep track of the location of known child molesters. So although some characters are the invention of the author it is all to easy to imagine the real Sally losing all hope as her captor is able to keep her in his control for nearly 2 years staying one step ahead of the police and running to another state every time they get a lead on what state she might be prisoner in. This must be only a glimpse into the true heartache and suffering of Sally and her family which the author so deftly brings to life. I received an advance copy for review
Darkly brilliant imagined rendering of Florence "Sally" Horner and her mysterious disappearance in 1948 at the hands of a 'moral abuser,' RUST AND STARDUST glitters. It's 1948 in Camden, New Jersey when shy, lonely, awkward Florence "Sally" Horner is given a dare from a group of girls to steal something from a Woolworths. She's desperate to join their club and so goes along with them. Just as she's leaving the store, a man (Frank LaSalle) grabs her and catches her stealing. He says he's with the FBI and she must go to their headquarters to confess her sins. But really, Frank LaSalle is fresh out of prison. As the story unfolds, Frank's lies become deeper and more brutal. Sally is scared but feels she has no way out of her situation. He takes her from Camden to the shore, Baltimore, Dallas, and California. RUST & STARDUST is a true story that has been fictionalized by the author to give it a novel appeal. [As a side note, Sarah Weinman's true crime exploration of this case, THE REAL LOLITA: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World will be published 9/11/18 by Ecco]. And so you wonder...the connection between this book and Nabakov's LOLITA? The way I understand it, Nabakov was struggling with the manuscript that would eventually become LOLITA while Sally's case was exposed in the media. It caught his attention and inspired characters in his book. RUST & STARDUST is gritty but not obscene. Greenwood takes a gentle hand with the brutal aspects of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse in the narrative. Readers get a sense of what is going on, but never is it blatant. Her words flow and glimmer and while the tale is disturbing, I felt such a soft spot for Sally and worried for her fate. Greenwood's research and intrigue with the case is evident in these pages, but so, too is her imagination. We 'meet' a colorful cast of characters, including a traveling circus at The Good Luck Motor Court in Texas as well as migrant workers in a citrus field in California. I found I simply could not put this book down. The chapters are short and told from the POV of several characters fully bringing the narrative--and Sally--to life. The ending...oh the ending! I can't say anymore. But trust me--read this book! The writing style of RUST & STARDUST is slightly different than Greenwood's earlier work (probably because this is a different kind of story) and reminded me so very much of Caroline Leavitt, especially IS THIS TOMORROW (but with touches of CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD), meets Bryn Greenwood's ALL THE UGLY AND BEAUTIFUL THINGS (I don't believe there's any relation, but I could be wrong) with a dash of Christopher Thomas Greene.
4.5 Stars. OH. MY. GOSH.....HEARTBREAKING. June 1948....Lonely at age 11, all Florence "Sally" Horner wanted was friends....to belong....to join the secret girls club, but her initiation to steal at Woolworth's proves disastrous as a predator is watching and preparing to make his move....take his next victim. Based on a true life kidnapping, RUST AND STARDUST is an "imagined rendering" of what might have actually happened during the two years Sally spent with a disgusting slithering snake...sex pervert...lier...and destroyer of the young and innocent. After finishing the novel, I did a bit of research....found the staged swing photo....read more about Sally's family and discovered so much of the story is indeed factual. Great job by T. Greenwood to bring her story to life and to our attention. (Nabokov's classIc, LOLITA was also inspired by the life of Sally Horner.)
This book caught my attention with its eye-catching cover and interesting title - not what I expected at all! Tucked into Greenwood's beautiful, lyrical prose is a heart-breaking story of a little eleven-year-old girl, Sally Horner, who was kidnapped in Camden, New Jersey in 1948. Sally lives with her mother, who has a hard time getting around due to illness. Her father committed suicide several years earlier. Sally has a hard time making friends and in order to be initiated into a group she steals something from a department store and a man accosts her and says he's from the FBI and she must go with him. I loved Greenwood's writing style and his characters were well developed. I really liked the character Ruth who met Sally at a trailer park. I read that this story was based on the true-to-life kidnapping of 11-year-old Florence “Sally” Horner in 1958. I recommend this book and even though it was tragic, I couldn't put it down until I had read to the very end. Thanks. to T. Greenwood and St. Martin's Press through Netgalley for an advance copy.
I did not know the story of Sally Horner. I could not put it down. I love this author.
Rust and Stardust is based on the true story of 11-year-old Sally Horner. Sally was kidnapped in Camden, New Jersey in 1952 by a 52-year-old Frank LaSalle, who was just out of prison. Sally, who never fit in wanted to join a club of girls in her school. In order to join the club, she had to steal something from a local store, Woolworth. She stole a composition notebook. As she was leaving the store, a man who claims to be an FBI agent, confronts her. The man, a convicted child abuser, said if she doesn't do as she was told that she would face a judge and go to prison for stealing. Sally is so scared and she believes him. He convinces her to lie to her mom, and say that she is going on a holiday with her friend to the shore. Sally's mom is so happy for her that she finally has a friend so allows her to go. Her mother even walked her to the bus stop and me the man who said he is the father of the girls friend. This is a horribly tragic story. The thing that poor Sally had to go through in the hands of LaSalle. This story, although tragic, was so beautifully written and such a quick read. Please keep in mind that this can be a difficult read and very emotional at times due to the nature of the content and the fact that it is a true story.
There is a nonfiction account of Sally Horner's story that is garnering a lot of media press lately, which is unfortunate because from what I have been hearing, it is not the greatest reading experience. It is also unfortunate that the nonfiction version is getting all of the publicity because T. Greenwood's fictionalized version is so very, very good. With the freedom of fiction, Ms. Greenwood places us into the mind of Sally and that of her mother and sister so that they are once again alive and vibrant and telling their collective story so that all may know what happened during those lost years at the end of the 1940s. Rust & Stardust is not an easy novel to read. While Ms. Greenwood does not get explicit in the forms of abuse Sally experiences, she provides enough contextual clues to understand just what is happening to Sally at any given time. This understanding is enough to turn your stomach and is most definitely a trigger for readers sensitive to pedophilia and other forms of child abuse. While it would be easy to say that such knowledge is not necessary to Sally's story, Ms. Greenwood presents it in such a way to understand not only her experiences but also her frame of mind during and after her abduction. In turn, this helps frame her state of mind that leads to her ultimate fate. It may be some of the most difficult reading you might do, but it is vital reading if only to recognize the mental trauma such sustained abuse causes Sally and the strains placed on her relationships with her sister and mother as a result of her trauma. Because of the sensitive nature of her subject, Ms. Greenwood tiptoes delicately through the grimier aspects of Sally's story. She provides Sally with a modicum of privacy within her most horrific scenes. Some of this privacy is out of necessity if only because we truly have no idea what Sally thought or felt throughout her ordeal. However, even among those aspects of the story in which Ms. Greenwood had to utilize her imagination, her speculations are so realistic that you forget you are reading fiction. In point of fact, Ms. Greenwood's diligent and very thorough research shines among the pages of Rust & Stardust so that you do not have to do any further research on your own. Adding to that is Ms. Greenwood's ability to paint a picture, which is so good that you have no need to Google Sally and find the images to which Ms. Greenwood refers throughout the story. To that end, Rust & Stardust is an excellent historical fiction novel specifically because Ms. Greenwood not only did her homework on her chosen subject but also presents it in such a way that blurs the line between fiction and reality. It is easy to forget that Sally's story is real, that Sally herself was real, and that she did endure years of sexual, physical, and mental abuse at the hands of her abductor. Sally's story is a tough one, and there will be times you will set it aside thinking you cannot possibly get through it, but there is something so beautiful about Rust & Stardust that it bears continuing with it. Sally may have undergone horrific situations, but her family never gave up on her. They fought, and Sally fought. That is the story worth telling and worth experiencing.For the many instances of a roiling stomach her story causes, Ms. Greenwood's Rust & Stardust is a beautiful, sensitive novel that provides you more insight into the Horner family than a certain other nonfiction publication out on the shelves right now.
Once again T. Greenwood has found a way to express the full range of human emotions--everything we look for in a great story.
Wow.....really really sad. Heart rending. Of course the true story of a young girl kidnapped by a sociopathic pedophile could not be anything but deeply affecting. I suggest sandwiching this one between two very lighthearted books. In spite of the terrible events, I kept reading on, engrossed, wanting to find out what would happen to the girl in the end. The end, as is so true of real life, is unpredictable and shocking. What has stuck with me since finishing this book is a new appreciation of the mindset and vulnerability of children. How do you parents bear to let your kids out of your sight?! This might be a cautionary tale for some parents, but it might scare the heck out of parents already aware of such dangers. I was quite surprised at how easily duped a preteen could be at the time, but maybe today’s kids are more savvy and wary. I hope so. Recommended for adults only of course. Note: I received an advance copy of the ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This book is a fictional account of the real life kidnapping of 11 year old Sally Horner in 1948, the crime that inspired Nabokov's Lolita. Sally was held captive by this monster for two years, during which time she faced unspeakable horrors. Let me start off by saying that this is not a "light" or "pretty" read in any way. As one would expect, given the premise, it is chock full of potential emotional triggers, largely abuse related. Proceed with caution and take care of your mental health.
I don’t think I have had a book both destroy me and fascinate me this much in a very, very long time. I only wish I had prepared myself in advance for what I was about to read. As soon as I read the blurb for this book, I knew it was something that I would have to read. I’m all about the darker side of life; be it taboo topics, disturbing content or graphic realism. What I did not know about this book was that it was based on true events. Not true crime in a traditional sense but a true account mixed with fiction and it was very, very well done. I think I was about halfway done with Rust & Stardust before I decided to do a quick Google search on Sally Horner. I’m not going to lie; I got very excited as soon as I realized that this was based on fact and had to force myself to step away from Wikipedia until I finished this book. You have no idea how hard that was to do but I finished the book a lot quicker than I had originally planned so bonus points for that! I was immediately drawn in to Sally’s story. Just a lonely child who wanted to fit in and would do whatever it took to make that happen, even if it went against her better judgement. My heart really broke for her over and over again. I remembered my children at 11 and even myself. It was a tough age and I can only imagine how much tougher it would have been in a time where children were less prepared and more naïve about the dangers of the world. Although this book flips around between a lot of different perspectives, it’s not done in such a way that confuses the reader. In fact I think that it really brings to light the way Sally’s disappearance affected those around her and how much her presence and personality touched those she came into contact with, even during those worse times of her life. Even though this is a fascinating read and a very powerful story that needed to be told, it is not an easy one. Not only is the content cringe worthy at times (definite trigger warnings for violence and sexual abuse), the author has obviously put so much heart into these words that you can really feel each and every devastating page. I pride myself on my ability to read some of the most horrific details and true cases without flinching but the author still managed to break me on the inside. Well done! For books like this I always have a hard time completing a final thought. On one hand, I feel weird saying that I enjoyed it but on the other, it was a really amazing book. Rock…me…hard place. I have already recommended this book to many, many people and will continue to do so. Keep in mind; this is not for those who get triggered easily by crime involving children. If you are looking for a happy book where everything ends with rainbows and fluffy kittens…keep browsing. This is REAL and if you are able to stomach that I would highly, HIGHLY recommend Rust & Stardust. I would like to thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this book. I would also like to thank the author, T. Greenwood, for seeing a story that not a lot of people would be familiar with now and bringing it back to life. For giving Sally a new voice.
This is a difficult book to review, because I don’t really want to say that I enjoyed it, but it was definitely a book I had trouble putting down, and that I raced through. It is based on the true story of an 11 year old girl who was kidnapped and raped by an man in his 50s. He travels across country with her for more than two years, stopping for extended periods in a few locations, and then moving on when he believes he may be caught. But, what this story is really about is how both the girl herself, and the people around her are effected by the situation—how people can choose to overlook things that are seemingly obvious, how an experience can be twisted to mean something different in different peoples minds, and how you can never count on exterior appearances to reflect the truth. I also think, in a strange way, this book left me with a sense of faith in the ultimate goodness of many people, even as so many acts of cruelty or indifference on the part of many others led to the tragedy of this girl’s life. I appreciated that this book was not overly graphic about the sexual abuse that was at the heart of the relationship between the girl and her abductor. I did not need any particular detail to evoke the horror of what she suffered. I received an advanced reading copy from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley. Thanks!
I was first drawn to Rust & Stardust by both the title and cover. Both are certainly unique and intriguing. The dark, disturbing, fictional story is based on the real life kidnapping and abuse of a young girl by an ex-con in New Jersey in 1948. The pain and suffering this girl and family endured for almost two years at the hands of a monster is completely unimaginable and utterly heart-breaking. At that time, parents and children still felt safe in their unlocked homes as children often played outside, rode bikes, and traveled about unsupervised. Sadly, their sense of security was shattered when every parents' worst nightmare became a reality for the Horner family. Sally Horner just wanted to "fit in" with her peers when she acted on a dare to steal a notebook from a Woolworth's store. She had no way of knowing that a man who confronted her claiming to be a FBI agent was actually a sexual predator. Threatening eleven year old Sally with jail time, fifty-two year old Frank LaSalle kidnapped her, stealing her innocence while repeatedly mentally and physically abusing her as they crossed the country traveling as "father/daughter" - always one step ahead of the law and curious strangers. Sally's fear, along with LaSalle's continuous threats, kept her mum and in line. Through her point of view (and that of family and friends), readers gain a sense of the horrendous pain, suffering, doubts and despair that Sally and her family endured. And yet, there was always a tiny spark of hope. To say Sally's story touched me would be a gross understatement - it devastated me. No child or family should ever be forced to live this nightmare. Unfortunately, evil does exist and in this case, it has a name. Needless to say, this is a tragic, deeply disturbing story of lost innocence and shattered lives, but it's one that I think needed to be told, and this author did so with as much grace, care, and sensitivity as possible. Rust & Stardust is beautifully written and delivered, and I believe it pays homage to Sally Horner and her family with their remarkable strength and perseverance. While this is a fictional rendering, it's obvious Greenwood did a great deal of research in delivering a story that closely mirrors the true story. Like many other readers, after finishing this book I researched the real life story of Sally Horner's kidnapping, reading newspaper articles and looking at pictures. It certainly drove home how all too-real and tragic this story was, but I can still say, with tears streaming down my face, this is a Must Read! Well done, T. Greenwood.
This story of child abduction could have been ripped from the pages of a current newspaper, however, it was not. It is 1948 and it is the story of Sally Horner who, along with her mother, Ella, were tricked into believing Frank LaSalle, aka Mr. Warner, aka Mr. Peterson, was an upstanding individual when in fact he was an ex-con, a sexual predator targeting young girls. When she is caught stealing a notebook by Mr. Warner, who claims to be FBI, Sally agrees to his plan in order to stay out of juvenile prison. He tells her the judge in Atlantic City will have to hear her story and might exonerate her. Her mother in Camden, NJ never has to know about her daughters unspeakable crime. Ella Horner is told he is Mr. Peterson, the father of Sally's friend and he will gladly take Sally to Atlantic City to join his family for a weeks vacation. Sally is only 11 years old, a bright little girl but she's scared so she follows the plan. When one week becomes three her family begins to recognize that this vacation seems very suspicious and only then begin to take action. Author, T. Greenwood's novel retells Sally's true story, which inspired Nabakov to write Lolita, in a page turning, heart wrenching, spine tingling, suspenseful fashion. The conclusion will stun you. Special thanks go out to the author, publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review this novel before it's August publication date.
Upfront. First thing - I am recommending this book. It is a well developed story about a horrible event. But it is a difficult read. Sadness, anger, depression, impatience become the readers constant companions during this reading. T. Greenwood calmly and clearly chronicles a child abduction. Step by step we are led through the events that wrest a young girl from her home to life on the road with a drunken pedophile. Each step could have turned out differently. This is the “gut wrenchingness” of this book. If Only rides along from New Jersey to California. The individuals we meet along the way are fully developed characters. This is part of the beauty of this novel. We like some. We admire some. We hate some. Some bring us to tears while others raise our blood pressure. I will not ruin the book for future readers by disclosing the ending. I will call the ending most satisfying and poignant. I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley. My review is unbiased and completely my own. #netgalley #rustandstardust
Rust and Stardust is a novel that will wring your heart out. Taking place in New Jersey in 1948 - 1952, we follow the life of 11 year old Sally Horner. Sally is that girl we all were, at some point. Very naive, no self-assurance, no real friends, no sense of worth. No life experience, no ability to hide her thoughts, no skill at deception. And Mr. Warner knows just how to take advantage of all those no's. Sally is just the gal he's been looking for. I received a free electronic copy of this historical novel from Netgalley, T. Greenwood, and St. Martins Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.
So incredibly heartbreaking. This is a historical fiction novel based on the 1948 kidnapping of Sally Horner. It has been theorized Vladimir Nabokov might have been partially inspired by the case and it is actually briefly mentioned in his book,Lolita . I wasn't familiar with the case beforehand and I ended up reading this book over the course of an afternoon and evening because I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep not knowing what happened to Sally. Your heart just breaks for this sweet and trusting young girl. The book is told from not only Sally's perspective but other people who know Sally, including her family members. So throughout the book you are not only feeling Sally's pain but also the hurt and torment of those she left behind. It's really a remarkable book and I highly recommend but be prepared for an emotional reading experience. I won a free ARC in a giveaway but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.
Heart wrenching and powerful as only T. Greenwood can deliver! Eleven year old (Florence) Sally Horner is kidnapped from her Camden New Jersey home in 1947 by a convicted pedophile, the circumstances surrounding how this could happen will leave you astonished! This story will stay with you for time to come. The never ending hope by Sally's brother-in-law will help keep you wishing for a happy ending; but at every turn those who may provide resolution are always one step behind the evil man who captured her. A true story at its heart, all those who had the chance (both true and fictional) to come in contact with Sally were changed forever.
I am in the clear minority in my feelings for this book. I have read other books by Greenwood and loved them, but Rust & Stardust just didn’t do it for me. For starters, I really just wanted to shake some common sense into Sally. Was she really that stupid? I mean, she is 11 years old. Old enough to know that the FBI isn’t going to arrest you for stealing a notebook. And then, all those times that Frank left her alone, in rooms, in the care of other people, she seriously didn’t tell anyone or try to call her mom and get out of that situation. I just had a hard time believing that she really didn’t think to try to save herself. I know, I know, she was scared, but even she started to suspect that something wasn’t right and still did nothing. All in all, I was pretty bored with this book and I really couldn’t wait to get through it so I could start my next one. With that, there are buckets of 4-5 star reviews, so I would say give it a go, especially if true crime is something you enjoy. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for my copy of this book via NetGalley