Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

Rust & Stardust is truly amazing. It is not, however, for the faint of heart. It is the fictionalized account of a true crime story, one so famous in its time that it’s said to have been one of the inspirations for Vladimir Nabokov’s classic, Lolita.

The story is set in 1948 Camden, New Jersey. Sally Horner has been dared by the cool girls to steal a notebook from the local Woolworth’s. Unfortunately, she’s seen by a recently paroled pedophile. He will convince Sally that he’s an FBI agent, and even trick her mother in to allowing him to take Sally away. For the next two years, Sally is his prisoner as they travel across the country.

Although the author uses many of the actual facts from the case, what makes Rust & Stardust a novel is Greenwood’s attempt to give voice to the people involved. While it’s very hard to read the chapters told from Sally’s point of view, I found the chapters told in her mother’s voice to be the most difficult. This novel does not have a happy ending. However, it is wonderfully written. It’s also a reminder (as if we need one) of how careful we need to be with our children.

~ Leslie W.