"Elements of Tara Westover’s Educated... The mill comes to represent something holy to [Eliese] because it is made not of steel but of people."
New York Times Book Review
"In the tradition of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Studs Terkel’s Working, Molly Martin’s Hard-Hatted Women, and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, Rust grants readers an instructive and chastening look at some of the labor on which we depend without understanding or appreciating it."
"Goldbach will engage you with her honest storytelling about what it means to be a Millennial, a woman, a daughter, and a person of faith in today’s world."
U.S. Catholic Magazine
"Goldbach clearly finds her voice in telling of her new-found fortitude and footing while working as a steelworker."
The New York Labor History Association
"Goldbach is a talented writer who weaves together remarkable descriptions and reflections on mental illness, poverty, rape culture and her Catholic childhood."
National Catholic Reporter
"A female steelworker's soulful portrait of industrial life. Goldbach's evocative prose paints a Dantean vision of the mill...but she discovers in the plant’s quirky, querulous employees an ethic of empathy and solidarity that bridges ideological divides. The result is an insightful and ultimately reassuring take on America’s working class."
"Bringing her perspective as an outsiderboth as a woman and a liberalto this insightful account of the steel worker's lot, Goldbach displays refreshing candor and hard-earned knowledge about the issues that divide us and the work that unites us."
"This beautifully told, nuanced memoir will strike a chord with fans of J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy, and pique the interest of sociology scholars."
"We can all learn something from a steelworker who found meaning inside the bowels of a mill in an economically devastated and forgotten part of America. At a time when the nation is divided geographically, politically, and demographically, Rust feels like a salve."
"Like the flare of that undying smokestack flame beside I-490, this timely memoir snatches attention.... It’s well deserved: former ArcelorMittal steelworker Goldbach catches fire in her pages as she recounts her time working beneath that very flare, torn between her desire to leave and the family and determination she found in the gruff men at her side."
"This is a dusty book, a story like iron, it’s not always nice but it’s perfect. If you’re looking for something entirely different this week, “Rust” should be a strong contender."
"Eliese Colette Goldbach becomes the Muse of the Rust Belt in Rust, her rich paean to steel, the industry in which she found herself.... Goldbach has learned to sing, in prose of passion and power."
“Eliese Colette Goldbach uses formal experiment, broken narrative, and a voice that admits doubt and questions the terms of its telling to fight silencing. Masterful form is often a question of well-managed rupture.”
Leslie Jamison, New York Times bestselling author of The Recovering
"There have been a lot of books written about life in industrial cities in the Midwest, but relatively few written by people who actually live in them, and few so heartfelt and unsparing. Rust is at once a unique memoir and a broad indictment of America's broken promise that anyone who came of age in the 21st century will find painfully familiar."
Sarah Kendzior, New York Times bestselling author of The View from Flyover Country
Charlie LeDuff, New York Times bestselling author of Detroit: An American Autopsy
"Rust is a soulful telling of America's stubborn and forgotten core. Deeply honest and defying easy sentimentality, this book heralds the arrival of a true talent."
Adam Chandler, author of Drive-Thru Dreams
"Goldbach turns in a gritty memoir of working in a steel mill while wrestling with the world beyond.... An affecting, unblinking portrait of working-class life."
"A gritty memoir of life in the Rust Belt she’d so desperately wanted to escape and of the hardworking people she came to love."
Chicago Sun-Times, "6 Books Not to Miss"
"In our whacked-out national moment, Eliese Colette Goldbach arrives in the nick of time, a fresh voice to revive an old, substantial truth: that one person’s hard work, achieved despite troubles of heart and finance, of faith and family, is the most enduring American value of all. Rust is a memoir of steel and grit, yes, but soul above all, a young Cleveland millworker’s eloquent tale of hard times that plants its boots squarely on the bookshelf of American working-class literature."
David Giffels, author of Barnstorming Ohio: To Understand America and The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches from the Rust Belt
"A haunting meditation from the far shores of addiction, mental illness, and obsession."
Ladette Randolph, author of Leaving the Pink House
"Rust is a brave, heartfelt memoir whose pages overflow with hard-earned wisdom. Goldbach's story of embodying our national extremesconservative vs progressive, religious vs secular, white collar vs bluehas endowed her with a singular ability to see through our partisan delusions and identify what, truly, unites us still as Americans. If your heart, like mine, feels poisoned by this era of political division, Rust may just be the antidote for which you've been searching."
John Larison, author of an Entertainment Weekly Best Book Whiskey When We're Dry
“The steel mill burns on in the heart of Cleveland, and in the pages of Eliese Collette Goldbach’s transformative debut. This is indeed a memoir of steel and grit, the extraordinary work of every ordinary day. But like all great stories, Rust is also a love storyabout a craft, a city, and the communities we forge there. Goldbach reminds us that what we make in turn makes us who and what we are.”
Dave Lucas, author of Ohioana Book Award for Poetry winner Weather
"Eliese Collete Goldbach might be the only essayist who does footnotes better than David Foster Wallace."
The Pitt News
"A Spring 2020 must-read... In the same vein as J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy and other post-election literature, the strongest components of Goldbach’s memoir rest on the keen observations of life at the steel mill, specifically as a woman in a largely male environment; how the identity of laborers is consistently exploited by politicians; and the myriad ways households are divided by hyperbolic political rhetoric... Rust is a moving portrait of Goldbach's formative years, with gems of societal observation strewn throughout the narrative."
"[Rust] is hard and sharp like rust itself. There is so much warmth, thoughthe oranges and reds of rust, the color of dusk, signifying the end of a day, a time, an experience, a livelihoodalso bright and new, vibrant, dawn-like, signifying hope, promise, a new time, a new era. Eliese doesn't pull any punches and I dig that. The thing I really love, though, is her story is so relatable. Given a different city and occupation...granted a much safer occupation...this is my story, and probably most of ours. The struggle between personal promise and undiscovered future potential juxtaposed with the need to stay connected with the ties that bind, and the need for a paycheck, is universal, and she approaches her journey with such honesty, sometimes bitterness, and with deep love. Great read.
Lane Richins, Weller Book Works (UT)
"Americans need more books like Goldbach’s Rust, which manages to be a gripping, visceral, on-the-ground account of the workings (and workers) in a steel mill in the rust belt, as well as a forthright narrative about dealing with mental illness. It’s not often that readers get firsthand stories of the grime, heat, and stress of these factory jobs, and hear about not only danger and toil, but also the camaraderie and financial benefits of such work. By weaving in her childhood, her upbringing, her education and romantic life as well as her mental health, this frank memoir of one woman’s working life shows how intricately what we do ties in to and becomes who we are. If Studs Terkel were still doing interviews, Eliese Goldbach would be a favored and welcome guest on his show."
Robert McDonald, The Book Stall (IL)
"I'm not sure what I expected when I started reading this book, but it wasn't the fascinating ethnography of life in a steel mill, or the raw and very personal experiences and feelings of a woman with bipolar disorder. I didn't expect an enlightening commentary on why America is so divided politically. I was most impressed with the author's ability to draw out the hypocrisies and prejudices alive and well in middle (most likely, all of) America."
Joanne Berg, Mystery and Me (WI)
"Interesting and well-written. Growing up in Pittsburgh, a lot of what she talks about feels very familiar. The parts of the book that take place in the mill had more of my attention than the her life story and the political backdrop. I can see this book selling to the people who liked Hillbilly Elegy and even to some extent, Educated."
Susan Skirboll, Kramerbooks & Afterwords (DC)
Goldbach, a writer and steelworker at the ArcelorMittal Cleveland Temper Mill in Cleveland, presents a complex, searing indictment of the present challenges facing employed and unemployed workers in the United States. Sharing her struggles with mental health issues, along with the residual psychological effects of sexual assault she endured as a college freshman, the author describes coping with the realities of poverty, and how, despite having a college degree, she came to work in a steel mill, a vestige of her hometown's blue-collar past. These concerns lend a personal perspective to the broader topics the author discusses involving health-care inadequacies, the Me Too movement, and the current divisive political climate. In the mill, Goldbach found security in a well-paid union job but also encountered a culture of persistent misogyny in the majority-male workplace. Still, her respect for such dangerous work has led her to defend its dignity from derision by mainstream society.
VERDICT This beautifully told, nuanced memoir will strike a chord with fans of J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy, and pique the interest of sociology scholars.—Caren Nichter, Univ. of Tennessee at Martin
Ohioan Goldbach turns in a gritty memoir of working in a steel mill while wrestling with the world beyond.
"Steel is the only thing that shines in the belly of the mill." The rest, writes the author, is hued in the greens and browns of dust and decay, muted and camouflaged. Appropriately, at the plant, she was just this side of anonymous, known as "#6691: Utility Worker." Still, she was assured by fellow workers that the money she would make would be the envy of Cleveland, certainly more than what she'd make as the professor she wanted to become. Of course, there were plenty of drawbacks. Her first day, she heard the horrific tale of another woman on the line torn to bits—"her body just fell apart"—by an errant cylinder on a conveyor belt. There were also dangerous forklifts and cauldrons and vats of magmatic metal. The world outside was full of terrors, as well. Goldbach endured sexual assault and the onset of bipolar disorder and battled her parents on matters of religion and politics. As a solid member of the blue-collar working class, union card in hand, she took a role as the resident liberal in the steel mill, a type so rare that her fellow workers seemed scarcely able to imagine it. Trumpian currents run deep in the mill, as she discovered, but when tragedy strikes, she learns, these "bunch of Joe Schmos" are as one: "There was no division so great that it could eclipse the unity that had been forged in the light of the mill's orange flame." The narrative sags every now and then, but one cheers for Goldbach when she's finally offered the teaching post to which she's so long aspired, entailing a massive pay cut and starting all over at the bottom, prepared to take that risk precisely because she has gained the necessary confidence on the shop floor—and saved enough to do so thanks to the decent, union-backed wages she earned.
An affecting, unblinking portrait of working-class life.