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Rust & Stardust

5 stars
3,179 (38%)
4 stars
3,546 (42%)
3 stars
1,261 (15%)
2 stars
270 (3%)
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78 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,851 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa.
647 reviews28.6k followers
February 28, 2019
Despite the eye-catching cover and the author's lyrical style, this is not a pretty read. In fact, this riveting rendering of the true-crime abduction of a young girl ripped my heart to shreds. The thought-provoking nature of the story, the all too real feelings it incites and the beauty of the author's writing is what makes this one I have to recommend.

If, like me, you haven’t found the time to read Lolita—a novel some have labeled iconic, controversial or even a classic—you might not know it was the actual true-crime abduction of an 11-year-old girl by a pedophile that fueled Vladimir Nabokov’s inspiration. Intrigued by Nabokov’s muse of sorts and the actual abduction, T. Greenwood gives that innocent young girl and her family a voice in this fictional novel, using her imagination to fill the voids the unknowns inhabit and adding heart and hope with the creation of her own characters.

This is Florence Sally Horner’s story—or a sizable chunk of it, anyway.

I think it’s safe to say, at one time or another, we’ve all experienced the aching need to belong. Sometimes trying to form a connection with a group of peers—whether they’re worthy or not—leads us to do things we know in our hearts is wrong. Sally Horner lands herself in a conundrum one afternoon in Woolworth’s: steal something to prove her loyalty to a group of girls or risk the new friendships she’s so desperate for.

Caught red-handed with a composition book down the front of her shirt 
and abandoned by those so-called friends, a manipulative stranger seizes the opportunity to exploit Sally’s naivety. Frank La Salle's level of trickery and her trusting nature make the narrative all too easy.

What adds even more heartbreak to the situation is the role Sally’s own mother plays, falling prey to the con-man herself. Choking on grief from the suicide of her husband, she’s too easily persuaded to allow her daughter to be chaperoned to the Jersey shore by a complete stranger. Or even worse, made to believe for the first few months that Sally is not only happily enjoying the beach, but reluctant to leave.

Subjected to physical, mental and sexual abuse at the hands of Frank La Salle, it's not easy to stomach Sally's reality. T. Greenwood delivers her harrowing account of Sally’s life on the road with an unwavering intensity. Through alternating perspectives, she not only explores the young girl's feelings, but the havoc guilt and regret wreaks on everyone close to the situation.

This poor girl can't catch a break. A set of near misses, dashed hopes and the people unwilling to go that extra step had my blood boiling in frustration. I wanted nothing more than to be able to save Sally—to give her the gumption and strength to run, damn the consequences.

I don’t think you can escape the desire to learn more about Florence Sally Horner and the actual events that took place back in 1948, so prepare to do some research when you turn that final page or maybe you won’t even be able to wait that long.

Kudos to T. Greenwood for shining a bright light on the young girl who lost so much and for not twisting this into something it could never be, a love story.

***Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing a copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.***
Profile Image for Deanna .
655 reviews12.4k followers
October 1, 2019
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

From the blurb, I read that this was the true crime story that inspired, Vladimir Nabokov's “Lolita”.

But this is not a true-crime story in the traditional sense. I was eager to get started but had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that the book was based on a true story. I had to stop myself from Googling as I read. I wanted to wait until I was finished before I searched for anything about the actual crime.

An excellent read! I was hooked right from the start!

Camden, New Jersey (June 1948)

11 year-old Sally Horner is an inquisitive and happy child. She loves learning and even loves going to school, but she has a hard time fitting in. One day she sees the girls at school doing a blood sisters oath. Sally would do anything to be a part of that group. The girls know that Sally wants to be friends with them. They tell her she can be part of the group IF she steals something from Woolworth’s. Sally is hesitant but she follows through, slipping a five-cent black marble composition notebook into her sweater and hurries to leave the store. Sally doesn’t realize that stealing that notebook will change her life forever.

52-year-old Frank LaSalle is just out of prison. He sees Sally steal the notebook and decides to make his move. He claims to be FBI and tells Sally she’ll do as he says …unless she wants to be arrested and taken to jail. Terrified, Sally does as he asks.

The chapters alternate between Sally and many other characters. We read about Sally’s time with LaSalle, the places they lived, and the people Sally came in contact with. There are chapters from Sally’s mother, sister, and brother-in-law's point of view. They all struggle with guilt, anger, and blame. So many things could have changed the outcome of this story.

“But the even greater mystery, she thought, was Sally herself. What on earth would have made her agree to go with him, this fiend?”

This is an extremely chilling, emotional, and heartbreaking story that had me by the throat. I had to take a break now and then, but it wasn’t long before I picked the book back up again.

"While the series of events and the settings in which they occur mirror history ”, this is a work of fiction. She dreamed herself into Sally’s life. Events were dramatized, relationships constructed, the sequence of events changed.

Though disturbing at times, this was a brilliantly written and intense read that had me Googling for hours once I finished the book. I am really looking forward to reading more from this author.

I'd like to thank St. Martin’s books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Kristin (KC).
251 reviews25.1k followers
August 17, 2018
:::5 Stars:::

It ain’t easy being queasy…

Despite (and maybe because of) the fact that I spent the entirety of this harrowing journey staggering on the brink of both vomit and tears, only to be pulled under into an abysmal sea of sadness, I cannot give this book anything less than the five shiny stars it deserves.

RUST & STARDUST is a fictional rendering of the real-life abduction of Sally Horner—an eleven year old child from New Jersey who was kidnapped by a manipulative monster of a man and held captive for two gruesome years.

Although the basic structure of this story is largely factual, this is not a biography and is widely embellished with friendships and daily occurrences. But the very real Sally lurks behind these pages, the truth of her story awoken and stretching gently around these words.

As one would expect, the content is beyond difficult to read and overflowing with potential emotional triggers, namely physical and mental abuse, so some readers should take caution.

However, this author shows the utmost respect for the tragedy endured by sparing readers any graphic detail and using a delicate hand to highlight even the darkest corners of this plot. It was a saving grace--one I normally don't require, but in the case of a child I do not need, nor can I stomach, explicit details. The restraint was merciful and appreciated, and I don't at all feel it weakened or underplayed the depths of what Sally went through.

This isn’t a story meant to be enjoyed, but one that has to be told and begs to be heard.

And what I heard most was this :
"We should do something…”
“We gotta do something…”
“God, somebody’s got to do something…”
“We need to do something about this…”
“Somebody’s gotta do something…”
“God, please do something…”

DO SOMETHING—words spoken repeatedly, and scattered throughout these pages by Sally’s family members, acquaintances, teachers, and even strangers, yet (with the exception of some) too many seemed to do nothing when it came down to it.

For me, this was an eyeopening example of how, despite our good intentions, many of us will turn a blind eye and continue on with our lives because it is not “our” tragedy, it’s theirs.

We separate ourselves from the pain of others so it doesn't touch us, and then we tell ourselves it’s ok, but it is not. Especially when a child is involved.

But the flip side was also conveyed: people who go above and beyond to help. Quiet heroes who have no clue how their single selfless act will continue to inspire goodness in small but steady ripples.

We hear from various characters, each touched directly or indirectly by Sally's tragedy, and we see how they’re also scarred with its permenamt marks.

Sally’s pain effected me on a level I willed it not to reach and I didn’t want to let this story in. I wanted to remain detached, but I couldn’t.

Admittedly, there were moments I wanted to throw in the towel from the overwhelming sadness and from being so painfully disturbed, but the line between fiction and reality began to blur, and closing the book began to feel a lot like turning my back on a little girl who had already been through enough of that.

Despite her torment, Sally remained a warrior, and the least I could do was read her story. And as much as my heart broke, I’m so very glad I did.

Greenwood’s prose is graceful and eloquent, and just so achingly beautiful I could have cried from her unique arrangement of words alone. She masters the art of storytelling to an unfathomable degree, and here’s some solid proof:

"The world was a terrifying and dangerous place, a world that could convince you to offer up your own child to the devil without even thinking twice."

"How sad it is that grief has a shelf life … It’s only fresh and raw for so long before it begins to spoil. And soon enough, it will be replaced by a newer, brighter heartache—the old one discarded and eventually forgotten."

"She curled herself into a ball and imagined she was made not of bones but of sticks. Twigs. Gnarled and brittle limbs broken off from their roots. She and the tumbleweeds were no different, both at the whim of a terrible wind."

"Poor Sally, this moonfaced girl with dull hair and pale eyes; so plump and earnest. So eager to please. What would become of this girl?"

Before this read, I had never heard of Sally Horner. And now I will never forget her.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Book Stats:
▪  Genre/Category: Fiction
▪  Characters: Pained and unbearably broken
▪  Plot: A young girl abducted and abused struggles to find a way back home. Various trigger warnings
▪ Writing: Delicate, sparing readers of graphic detail. Beautiful prose
▪ POV: 3rd Person Perspective: multiple characters
▪  Cliffhanger: None. Standalone

*Traveling Friends Read*
Profile Image for Christina Loeffler.
135 reviews17.4k followers
August 15, 2018
5, *rolls up podium, pulls down screen, powers up projector, starts powerpoint presentation* now let me tell you about a magnificent literary masterpiece stars!!!

I think I could've stabbed myself in the eye with a fork and it would've hurt less than this book.

Ok, all jokes aside - this isn't a funny book at all. It's heartbreaking and left me feeling empty and stunned but in awe of Greenwood and her ability in her craft. This is easily the newest member of my favorites shelf and any reader with an appreciation for story telling would do well to pick this up.

This is a work of historical fiction based off of the real case of Sally Horner and her abductor Frank LaSalle. After her abduction, LaSalle keeps Sally captive convincing her he is an FBI agent and dragging her all over the country as he evades the real FBI for 2 years. Needless to say, but to note for future readers - it's rare that old, creepy men kidnap young girls for reasons that aren't disturbing and traumatizing. These scenes are handled with the utmost care by Greenwood but could be triggering for some readers.

Susan woke up that September morning and felt a distinct chill run like ice water down her back. Her first waking thought was of Sally. This is how she'd woken every morning for over a year now. Not with the soft ascent from the depths of a dream but with the sharp bite, that cold blade of the truth. This is the cruelty of grief. The way it gathers strength in the night, blooming again and again and again. There was nothing she could do to combat it other than allow its icy fingers to dig in and then to move on.

Greenwoods command of language is nothing short of awe inspiring. For such a terribly heart-wrenching story the beauty of Greenwoods writing skill really shines through. We're given multiple POVs throughout, most notably that of Sally, her mother Ella, her sister and brother-in-law Susan and Al and unlikely friends she makes during her captivity. It was an incredibly clever way to show that while the saying is that it takes a village to raise a child - that same village is also irrevocably changed when tragedy strikes.

I was incredibly emotionally invested in this story and following the last line on the last page I delved into further research into the truth behind this work of fiction. I highly suggest not looking into the case if you're unfamiliar with it prior to reading it only if you're interested in being surprised by the ending. It feels crass to call anything in this book a "twist" but it took me by surprise and while I thought my heart had no more room to crumble, apparently I was mistaken.

How sad was it that grief had a shelf life, he thought. It’s only fresh and raw for so long before it begins to spoil. And soon enough, it would be replaced by a newer, brighter heartache - the old one discarded and eventually forgotten.

The entire read was very visceral and raw for me. I'd think in most forms of art (and this is a work of art) the goal is to make those interacting with your piece feel something. I can tell you, this book is steeped in emotion. I was left enormously impressed with Greenwood and I look forward to reading further works by her. For such a heartbreaking story, Greenwood honored Sally with this retelling and brought beauty to something so horrendous I wouldn't have thought it possible.

I finished this with the Traveling Friends and it seems we have all fallen into the same coulee (which, this is the first time this has happened). It's rare that books live up to the hype, but I'll let all readers know - this absolutely lives up to the reviews. I am one smitten kitten this now gets to sit on my bookshelf.
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
380 reviews1,614 followers
May 6, 2019
Sally Horner is under peer pressure because she wants to join her friends club and they want her to steal something from the local Woolworths store in Camden, New Jersey. This happened in the 1940's. She decides to steal a composition notebook and doesn't realize that Frank LaSalle is watching her. He was released from prison. Sally is only eleven years old and he abducts Sally, convincing her that he is a F.B.I agent, and can have her arrested in a minute, unless she does what he says.

This is based on the real life story that inspired Vladimir Nabokov to finish Lolita.
This is every parents nightmare and it is a heartbreaking novel. Frank LaSalle is a monster. Sally doesn't want anyone to know that she is kidnapped, and keeps secrets, because she is in fear that something worst could happen to her, and her family.

This is such a heartbreaking novel based on a true story that is every parents nightmare. Some true stories don't have a happily after. Even though this wasn't a happy story, I loved it. This is a historical novel and I am loving them more and more. It was a very suspenseful book.

I thought the author did a really excellent job on her characters. Sally was very naive but she also was a smart girl for her age. The author did a great job on Sally's emotions and actions. Sally led a tragic life. My heart went out to Sally and her family.

It was very difficult to read at times and I don't think this story will leave me anytime soon after reading it. It was a little dark and disturbing.

I thought it was very well written and it flowed so well. I read Where I Lost Her and thought that book was outstanding and I thought this one was done, just as good as that book. This one is a must read. I want to read all of her books. If you haven't read any of this authors books, go ahead and read one. It will give you an awesome reading experience. I love this author.

I want to thank NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and T. Greenwood for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,198 reviews34.9k followers
January 4, 2018
4.5 stars

Rust & Stardust is based on the real-life kidnapping of 11-year-old Sally Horner, and her kidnapper, in 1948 whose story inspired Vladimir Nabokov to write his controversial and iconic book, Lolita.

After a dare from a group of girls, 11-year-old Sally Horner attempted to steal a notebook from a Woolworths. She was stopped by a man who claimed to be an FBI agent and that she was under arrest. She had no way of knowing that this man was not an FBI agent but an ex-convict by the name of Frank LaSalle who was recently released from prison. He tells Sally if she does not cooperate, she will be in jail, so she does as he says.

The Author then takes us through the two years in which Frank LaSalle mentally, physically and sexually abuses Sally. The two of them travel from place to place, moving on when people begin to get suspicious of this single father and his "daughter". Along the way, Sally meets people who are kind to her and who suspect the truth. Frank always seems to be one step ahead and keeps them moving so he is not caught. Sally's mother initially believed that Sally was going on vacation with a friend (she walked her to the bus station and left her with LaSalle!) but soon, the authorities were called in and the real authorities began a search for Sally.

This book lets us into Sally's life and we see her fear, her doubt, her loathing, her anger, her resentment, her hope, her strength. She was taken in a time when people were perhaps more trusting, the internet did not exist, Amber alerts did not exist, the harsh realities of depravity were not widely discussed, and children were not warned about pedophiles and teachers were not trained on detecting abuse.

This is not a happy book. It is sad and heartbreaking. It is a story about pain, about loss, about innocence lost, about fear, about pain, about abduction, about abuse, about hope and finding home. This book is extremely well written and captivating. I thought the Author did a wonderful and thoughtful job telling the story with such a sensitive subject.

The Author's note at the end was very poignant and educational. I love books that cause me to think and feel and boy did I do a lot of thinking and feeling while reading this book. I believe the Author showed tact and caring while telling this girl's (and her family's) story.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin's Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

See more of my reviews at
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
724 reviews4,627 followers
August 23, 2019
📓 "The world was a terrifying and dangerous place, a world that could convince you to offer up your own child to the devil without even thinking twice." 👧🏻

Rust & Stardust is based on the 1948 kidnapping of 11 yr. old Sally Horner by Frank LaSalle. This story was heartbreaking for me to read as my youngest daughter is 11 yrs. old. Even knowing that this was a work of fiction I couldn't read about Sally's years with her captor and not feel it emotionally. It gutted me, imagining what horrors this girl must have endured at the hands of this vile pedophile.

In T. Greenwood's work of historical fiction we are given her imagined renderings of the years Sally spent on the road with her captor. The events were fictional dramatizations, the relationships constructions of her imagination - this is not true crime & it never claims to be. Honestly, as I was reading I wished the whole thing were fictional and that it had never happened to little Sally. This poor lonely girl walked into a Woolworth's to steal something on a dare/initiation from a group of girls she desperately wanted to accept her. Little did she know that there was an ex-con & pedophile watching her who saw his perfect opportunity. Sally was young, gullible and vulnerable. Frank was despicable and preyed on her innocence.

This book is not an easy, light hearted read. Yet, Greenwood did add elements of hope to balance out the despair. I enjoyed the elements of hope and love she sprinkled into the book with the people that helped and came to love Sally along the way - Lena, Ruth & Sister Mary Katherine. I couldn't help but hope that the real Sally had some of that in her life during her ordeal.

It was beyond frustrating to read how Frank LaSalle always seemed to keep a step ahead of the law. I kept asking myself, how can no one see there is something wrong between them? Why won't Sally say anything? Yet, this really happened and he truly did get away with it for 2 years. So as implausible as some of the scenarios might have seemed - reality is sometimes just as farfetched isn't it? The mental manipulation, threats and physical harm victims are forced to endure in essence make them too afraid to flee or ask for help.

The book unfolds via various characters' point of views. We see first hand not only what Sally endures but also the devastation that her kidnapping causes her family. I found the book to be captivating and I spent quite a bit of time googling the real kidnapping so that I could relate what I was reading to what actually occurred. I'm not sure if that was a good or bad thing as it made the book seem all the more real. I was having trouble holding it together at various points while reading.

While the book was heart wrenching and even disturbing at times it was also undeniably moving. I was wholeheartedly invested in Sally and wanted nothing more than to be able to save her myself. Even knowing the outcome (I googled the case remember!) I couldn't put the book down - I had to finish it and see it through.

One last note that I have to mention - that pin & red ribbon on the cover - it isn't just meant to be eye catching. Once you read the book, you will see it is a meaningful symbol. It broke my heart! I absolutely love the symbolism of the cover. This is definitely a book that will remain with me for a long time.

Thank you to T. Greenwood, St. Martin's Press & NetGalley for providing an advance copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Profile Image for elena ❀  [on hiatus] .
263 reviews2,736 followers
July 14, 2022
Sally had read about lighthouses but had never seen one in real life. Lighthouses were made for sailors, the beacons of light to guide them home. She thought about home; maybe this shining light might lead her mother to her. It was foolish, she knew, but the idea brought an odd, momentary comfort.

In Rust & Stardust, we witness Sally Florence Horner become manipulated and brainwashed by a 50-year-old mechanic who has a history of sexually abusing girls, specifically young girls. We have to see Sally try to fit in with a group of girls who won't let her join their clique unless she steals something, so that is what little, innocent Sally does. She goes. She observes. She sees. She takes. But she's not the only one observing, as there is Frank La Salle, a 50-year-old pretending to be part of the FBI. He tells Sally he caught her and can instantly report her, get her to sit in front of a judge and pay for her crime. But of course, Frank has other plans, telling her that if she does as he says, he won't take her to court and she won't have to accept her punishment for stealing a composition book in front of her mother. Sally, unsure of what to say, nods, accepts and does as he says. And the rest is rust and stardust. Or so, some may think.

Rust & Stardust gives us, the readers, the voice Sally Florence could never use.

Trigger/content warnings for rape, sexual abuse, pedophilia, and kidnapping.

She knew that it was easy to forget people once they were gone.

T. Greenwood makes this book so realistic that it's as if all of this were diary entries written by Sally herself, now bringing them to life. It's as if the letters she wrote to her mother are real and are now exposed to the world. T. Greenwood also knew what this book would have to deliver, and I wholly believe she did it. As a reader who is scared of reading one of America's most loved yet criticized literature works, Lolita, I can't seem to compare both. I've seen the movie Lolita and can tell what the book would be about, but they're both so different. Although Lolita should not be considered a romance, many do. There's pedophilia, but there's confusion between the love of Dolores and Humbert. Although I haven't read it, I know. I think the similarity between both stories is that Dolores and Sally were both manipulated, innocently, and weren't aware of the situation they were later put in. Lolita is criticized for being inspired by this real-life case of Sally, but I can understand the praise it also gets.

She was braver now; it showed in every loop and letter. She never went back to the early pages; it was too painful to reread the musings of her eleven-year-old self. Too difficult to see how stupid she'd been. How hopeful.

When you think about it, there are many sad encounters in this. Not only Sally and the way she is forced to travel with Frank, is sexually abused, raped, and struggles to free herself, but also the encounters of her mother, Susan, Al, and even Vivi. There are moments of regret as they realize what has happened. For starters, I was frustrated at Ella but I couldn't be mad at her all the time. She had reasons, valid reasons, and her reasons came to be realistic in many ways. She was a mother still trying to accept and adjust to the fact that her husband had killed himself and Sally had known how. it had been months but she still couldn't get used to it, and with her daughter, Susan, being pregnant and about to have a baby, she wanted her little daughter to have some freedom for herself because Susan was never able to. I was able to stop myself from yelling at her because of what she wanted for Sally—a time for herself, time for her to enjoy time with her friend and let her be free while she was able to.

Parents will never want their children to suffer, so Susan really did think she made a good choice for Sally, but I truly did think she should have thought about everything more, even asked Sally why this suddenly came up. Couldn't she look at her daughter and see a hint of sadness in them? Help? Did she not see fear? Admittedly, Susan isn't the person to blame for everything, but there were times where all I wanted was to yell at her "Do something!" because she was not doing anything, not bothering to pay much attention and even gave up.

Her life had been filled with thieves. How did she not see this coming? Though this man had hardly stolen Sally. Ella had practically given her to him, handed her over as easily and stupidly as she handed the beautiful blue marble to the boy who plucked it from her palm and put it in his pocket.

There isn't anything better in books than making characters hateable but also loveable in balanced ways. Al was truly the hopeful character, which is sad because he wanted to find Sally more than Susan and Ella if you think about it. On the other hand, Susan was obviously too focused on herself, her upcoming baby and her mother. Al was trying to discover these hidden clues and find out where his little sister-in-law was and wondering if she was alive, hoping she was. Another character that I want to thank T. Greenwood for creating is Ruth. Sweet, loving, Ruth—she did everything for Sally and she never dared to hold back. She listened and she believed her, and I hated what Frank did to her as well, telling her lies as if she was some stupid woman who would believe his lies.

Everyone knew who she was. Everyone knew what Frank La Salle had done to her. Yet no one said a word. It was as if they all shared the same awful secret. But she could feel it in the way their gazes held too long: the girls assessing, and the boys? God only knows what they were thinking.

This is not a beautiful book. Greenwood does not shy away from the reality of child sexual abuse and pedophilia, with gruesome details of Sally being raped and being abused by Frank. Sally being naive and unknown to the reality of what her two years are about to be, she listens to him and does as he says, but little Sally had to grow from that and heal her past wounds. I was proud of her, for not letting it get in all of her ways as she let herself grow and bloom. I really wish Sally could have had someone to talk to, but this case is a reality, and Sally had no one. She had no friends, no family to rely on, and she couldn't tell her mother the truth because she was scared.

The world was a terrifying and dangerous place, a world that could convince you to offer up your own child to the devil without even thinking twice.

Of course, everyone has had those moments, the times where people want to click with others and become the person they've been looking for, but there's always gotta be future consequences and risk factors that we need to adapt to. What makes this read more difficult to process is not that, but it's the fact that it happens. Little children want to become sorted in the right groups and think they need to become the best of the best in order to be the best. You can't hate Sall for her decision with Vivi and the rest. She wanted a friend, more like a group of friends, especially after seeing what they did. What really saddens me in this is that Sally wasn't taught right. Although Sally was 11, she was smart, much more than everyone in her class. She was the inquirer, always raising her hand to ask about what the teacher was teaching or going off topic. She would learn from her teachers and decide to use words like luminious in order to please the adult world. The problem isn't Sally, but how Sally was taught. You can't blame her, especially when it was 1948.

Florence Fogg, what an odd little girl, and what an odd name, like something from a novel. Like an imaginary girl.

I think every adult needs to read this. I will say I would recommend this specifically because of the mature content in it. Any parent can take a lesson from this. Even though it was from 1948 to 1952, these things are still happening, and it can stop. The reason I say parents should read it is to be informed on how real this reads, on how the author manages to capture your attention and makes you mad but at the same time she manages to shock you and surprise you in the most delightful ways, especially when Sally is found, when Ruth hugs her, when Sally returns home and says "Mama!" to her mother, waiting for her with open and embracing arms.

Although I'm not too familiar with the case of Sally, I know research had to be done for this. There isn't a lot of information about Sally beside the same things, so I'm not sure if this was actually what happened, but it feels so deeply real. Frank takes Sally as her own and pretends to be her father, telling her that if she does any mistake that causes "them" trouble, he will arrest her. Of course, he then comes back asking for forgiveness by getting her a dog or buying her chocolate.

I'll be honest, this book was hard to read. I was putting my hand on my forehead and wanting to close the book, shifting from the page after reading what was happening to Sally. She was mentally, emotionally, sexually, and verbally abused. She was abused in every psychological way that it truly did mess with her. She was traumatized, but she learned from how fooled she was. In the end, I thought Greenwood would add some hope, but I also appreciate how true she stayed to the real story and decided not to change literally anything.

Despite Lolita being controversial, I can't say I can compare these two. They hold different potential and carry different messages. Neither book is romance, but there is more in Lolita to make your heart ache in a better way than Rust & Stardust. Truthfully, I don't know how to end this, but I know that Greenwood decided to give a portion of Sally's voice so we could hear her story told from her perspective.

Google won't give you the answers you're seeking for Sally's case, but this might, and if there's any suspicion, look it up and see for yourself the reality Sally had to face for two years of her life.

Of course, by then it had become her mission to save girls like Florence, like Sally, the ones with secrets in the art of detecting sorrow. She also learned that the way to protest those poor lambs was not by whis[ering her suspicions to whatever priest sat on the other side of the latticed confessional wall.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,157 reviews36.5k followers
August 22, 2018
5 Amazing & Heart-Wrenching Stars.

Rust & Stardust is a devastating novel based on the real life of Sally Horner, who at the tender age of eleven years old, was abducted by a man named Frank La Salle, who tricked her by claiming to be an FBI agent.

This is a rip your heart out novel that makes your breath catch in your throat and tears fill your eyes time and again.

On a dare from girls at school, Sally Horner attempts to steal a composition notebook from Woolworth’s and is caught by a man who claim to be an FBI agent. The man states that she must do as he tells her, or she will be arrested and taken to jail. Sally obeys as he is utterly convincing, especially to an eleven-year old, who is naive and trusting and she is in desperate need of attention. Sally’s mother Ella, has been overwhelmed ever since her husband died - thus when Frank La Salle, posing as the father of Sally’s school friend offers to take Sally off her hands for the summer, Ella doesn’t question it, not even when weeks and then months go by. Not when she gets letters from Sally stating how much fun she’s having. Ella has no idea it’s a ruse. Only when Sally’s older sister Susan and her husband Al start questioning things does Ella begin to worry. Thank goodness for Sally they did. Turns out Sally didn’t leave of her own accord - yet by the time it’s discovered, Sally and her abductor Frank, have fled.

Time and again - La Salle is two steps ahead. People notice that something seems amiss and yet, they do nothing. Perhaps a sign of the times or an issue with people not wanting to get involved, the effects are devastating. As you can imagine, Frank La Salle is not a nice man and unfortunately, Sally struggles in more ways than one. For two years she has feelings of guilt, anger, and complete and utter sadness and the depths of those feelings filled my soul. There were a few characters who were shining stars here. They are etched on my heart. One is Ruth, a woman who befriends Sally. Another is Al, Sally’s brother-in-law, who never gave up on the possibility of finding her. His heart is filled with solid gold.

Rust & Startdust broke me. Throat tight, cries escaping. This is not a book for the faint of heart. Though it dealt with a difficult subject, based on a true story, the details were handled extremely delicately. For that, I was extremely grateful.

I didn’t realize that it was based on a true story until I read the author’s note and then googled more about Sally Horner’s story. This novel read like fiction - it was flowy, beautiful, heartbreaking and poignant. T. Greenwood did a phenomenal job and I am in awe of her writing style.

This was a Traveling Friends read. Reading this with a group garnered incredible heartfelt discussions and really aided in my ability to get through this truly beautiful, yet incredibly hard to read novel. Thank you friends.

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and T. Greenwood for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Published on NetGalley, Goodreads and Twitter on 8.18.18.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,034 reviews3,552 followers
August 25, 2018
Where do I even begin to review a book as emotionally wrenching as this. I was left numb, speechless and just downright heavy-hearted when I reached the end. A true tragedy, and…innocence lost.

Sally is a young girl growing up with her mother Ella in Camden, New Jersey. All she wants is a good friend. More precisely, to be one of a group of girls she admired and watched become “Blood Sisters.”

At this point most readers, myself included, would probably fore-see something quite terrible heading Sally’s way. Oh yes! And the cruel joke of an initiation from the “Blood Sisters” sets off an avalanche of events that leaves poor Sally taken away from everyone she knows and loves and thrust into a world of unimaginable terror.

This book is based on the true case of Sally Horner. As the author states in her acknowledgment at the end of the book, this is not a biography or a true crime novel. It is fictionbased on true events.

I devoured this in one day. It’s so hard to put down as you are completely absorbed into this emotional journey with Sally. Be prepared for the onslaught of emotions. Anger, sadness, love and heartbreak. You cannot read this book and come away untouched by its powerful realism.

There are a number of vivid events in this book that may be difficult for some readers, but the author handled it extremely well without going into any unnecessary details.

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for something to touch you and remind you of life’s true value.

A Traveling Friends read!🌸

For this review and more Traveling Friends reviews please visit:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and T. Greenwood for an ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kendall.
635 reviews633 followers
August 7, 2018
Happy Pub day to this beauty!!! Put this on your radar everyone!! <3 <3.

Rust & Stardust... where do I begin? Oh my gosh 5 huge gut wrenching and beautiful stars!!

Oh my goodness did I cry on this book.... this book was so amazing!

This is my first book that I've read by Greenwood and I honestly am not sure why?! I have 2 others sitting on my kindle and am going to get to them like NOW :).

Greenwood tells a disturbing and heart-breaking story of Sally Horner and her abductor Frank LaSalle. The novels stars off in 1948 with Sally stealing a notebook from Woolworth's in order to impress her friends. Sally is approached by a man outside the store, claiming to be an FBI agent who says he is going to save Sally from prison due to her stealing. For the next two years, Sally is taken across multiple state lines with her captor, Frank LaSalle, and the heart-ache that accompanies Sally through her childhood.

Greenwood's words flow so beautifully across the pages that you can't help but get lost in the world of Sally and her family. The story alternates between Sally, her mother Ella, sister Susan, brother-in-law Al, and all the other people whose lives were touched by Sally throughout her journey.

I do have to warn you... this novel touches on some serious issues of child abuse (including physical, sexual, and emotional). This novel actually reminded me a little bit of the dark but beautiful book "All the Ugly and Wonderful Things" by Bryn Greenwood.

In all the darkness to this novel.. there is also so so much beauty. This is going on my top reads for 2018. I can't recommend this enough and am telling you to pre-order this one. I will be buying a hardcover when the book comes out in August of 2018.

Greenwood you got me with that ending.... I couldn't hold it together.. tears were a flowing my friends. I feel like my heart is broken :(.

A HUGE thank you to St. Martins Press, Netgalley, and T. Greenwood for an advanced arc in exchange for my honest review.
Published to GR: 2/25/18
Publication date: 8/7/2018
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,131 reviews39.3k followers
November 1, 2019
I haven’t shaken to the core and read something so scary, disturbing, heart breaking. This…. Oh my Gosh… I have to gather my thoughts but I’m so shaky, pissed off, emotional right now… Cursing, crying, murmuring some meaningless words, worse than Gibberish… I feel so much right now but I don’t know how I can pour down my feelings to my writing. THIS BOOK IS TOO MUCH! It makes you feel, bleed and fills you with so much anger. It’s fantastic masterpiece but it’s so dark, depressing, sad work absorbs all your happiness and makes you feel you’re walking with the dark clouds over your head and your heart is aching with so much despair. The worst part of this, everything written is based on true story…. Oh gosh…This is so…

See the dots above there! I didn’t click them accidentally. And nobody made reductions on my review. I ‘m completely speechless… I’m a horror/thriller movies fan. I actually laugh most of the teen slasher movies’ scenes and live in danger to be thrown at the theaters and turned into persona non grata of friends circle. I have no phobia. I don’t have nightmares. I tried to stay cool as cucumber at tragic situations and use sarcasm as a weapon to protect myself from several losses I’ve had in my life. So yes I’m not William Wallace but my friends gave me nickname as “Braveheart” because I don’t get easily scared! But this book isn’t only scared me, IT TERRIFIED THE HELL OUT OF ME and IT RIPPED MY HEART INTO TINY PIECES.

The plot is about 11 year girl Sally Horner’s abduction by ex-prisoner Frank LaSalle acting like FBI agent and deceiving the young innocent girl who is caught by him when she steals a notebook from Woolworths because of dare contest she played with her friends.

He convinces her if she goes with him without creating any problem, she will be saved from jail time.Unfortunately the little girl accepts him offer.

And for 2 years, she’s being abused in every psychical, sexual, mental way by her torturer. Frank’s calculating, calm manners help him to be always a few steps ahead of everyone. He is smart, wicked disgrace of human being use his improved acting skills to deceive other people not to be caught by authorities.

The book is taken place in the years there were no social media connections, amber alerts, effective searching methods, forensics teams to give more accomplished search to find the little girl.

It freezes your blood to read the things that little, innocent girl had endured to survive. Those torturous moments make me think some people belong to the hell in this world and they are scarier than fictional monsters and all real wild, savage animals trapped behind the bars of the zoos.
I felt like I ran three different marathons at the same day or attend to watch a competition to watch the saddest movies over and over again for crying till my throat burns in pain. My breathing is heavy, eyes are red-rimmed, hands are still shaky and legs cannot carry me anymore.

The book already left its scars in my mind and it will always stay in my heart. I’ll be damned!

P.S. Don’t forget to read the amazing author’s note which was refreshing, informative and genuine.

P.S 2: Please read this book when you’re not emotionally dealing some painful things in your own life.
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
307 reviews2,342 followers
August 11, 2018

I love great literature that moves you. You know? I mean isn’t that why we read? I want to be moved to cry, moved to think, moved to care. 2018 has been a banner blue ribbon year for the psychological suspense novel and now we have a crowning jewel of a book that crosses all the genres.

Rust & Stardust is unusual. If you’ve read any reviews, you’ve heard already this a sad story. Yes, it is absolutely heartbreaking. I can’t even describe how much your soul will ache. BUT it’s also suspenseful, historically relevant and fascinating. Rust & Stardust is not a true-crime book in the traditional sense. This crime of a young girl’s kidnapping in 1948 was headline making at the time and was the inspiration for Nabokov’s Lolita. (A fact that nauseates me. Remind me to check how many stars I gave that classic tale.)

I had a vague familiarity with Sally Horner’s name, but that’s all I knew when I began reading. I resisted every impulse to google, and I'm pleased to announce that in this case, I did abstain. I had no idea how the story would end and the suspense propelled me forward like a slingshot. I rarely put this book down. Sally crawled into my heart and I felt like I understood her. I cared about her—what’s going on, is she going to escape now? I was thinking about Sally constantly. And it’s been a long time since I had a book do that to me. Thank you, T. Greenwood, for this passionate reading experience!

I would describe this book as a cross between The Grapes of Wrath and THE CHANGELING movie starring Angelina Jolie. I know the time periods are a little off between these beautiful works of art, but the important thing IS the time period. It's the omnipresent lens that we view the story through and acts as much a pivotal character as anything else in the novel. There was a pervasive, deep societal innocence back then. Way before child molesters, mass shootings, and sex traffickers became our daily news. Sally was purely an innocent child, but also her mother, friends, teachers, even the police pushed back their doubts. "This could not be what it looked like." "This does not happen in America". In small ways, they all unknowingly contributed to the crime as much as Frank LaSalle, the deviant, corrupted everything he touched.

Rust & Stardust has all the atmospheric setting and attention to detail that Steinbeck, himself, was able to conjure on the page as the Okies trudged through the dust to California. Between the short, beautifully written chapters, Sally's abduction unfolds as seen by all the different characters involved. While you are very fearful for poor Sally, it is her family’s story of guilt, bitterness and loss that will shatter your heart.

FIVE STARS. I HIGHLY recommend Rust & Stardust. You will be hooked after the first few pages. I promise. Yes, there are some triggers for sensitive readers. However, Greenwood tackles the subject matter in such a consciously delicate manner that the story of Sally's life comes across as nothing less than poignant, authentic and human. And SERIOUSLY!! Don't google until you finish the book!!!!

Many thanks to the sweet people over at St. Martin's Press for sending me an early copy to read and review. All opinions are strictly my own.
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,068 reviews2,665 followers
October 30, 2020
I hesitated to read this book because of the subject matter but I'm glad that I did. Eleven year old Sally Horner steals a notebook and is convinced by a former convict, Frank, that he is an FBI agent and he's her only way to stay out of prison. For the next two years, Frank mentally, physically, sexually, and emotionally assaults Sally while they hide from those who are looking for her. This story is actually based on what happened to a real life Sally Horner and the story is heartbreaking.

The chapters are told from the point of view of a variety of people and I liked that feature. It helped to know how many people really cared about Sally, while Sally was thinking she was all alone in the world, with this horribly abusive man. Frank's crimes hurt so many people, not just Sally, and this book shows how much everyone who knew Sally suffered. Sally's mother was already a sick women due to her arthritis and loss of two husbands, one who abandoned her and other other who committed suicide. The book is full of despair but Sally is able to find some good in parts of those two years.

I especially liked Sally's brother-in-law Al, who was determined to not give up on finding Sally. Even when his wife, Sally's sister, wanted to give up hope, and felt that her mom's depression was dragging them down, Al would jump to the defense of Sally's mom, understanding what the loss of a child could do to a person. There was also Ruth, a childless woman who knew her mission in life was to save Sally from Frank. Both these people went out of their way to help Sally and knowing that they cared for her so much, made the story easier to read.

Published August 7th 2018

Thank to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for this ARC.
Profile Image for karen.
3,976 reviews170k followers
August 7, 2018

my monster roots are showing again. i am in the lonesome minority with this book, which has moved everyone but me to tears and praise. don’t get me wrong, i did not dislike it, but 1) i never rarely cry at books, and 2) my tastes run darker than this book.

“but…it’s about the kidnapping and abuse of sally horner, the 11-year-old girl nabokov wrote that book about. is that not dark??”

yes, that’s true. and while the subject matter is horrifying, the treatment of it is not. the use of the third person POV is part of it; the reader is already somewhat distanced from the situation, and the horrors are further diffused by employing multiple third-person POVs throughout the novel, where the shape of the story isn’t “these are the things happening to this little girl right now,” but “these are the ways in which a girl going missing affects those who knew her.” short answer, mostly guilt.

the actual abuse scenes are mostly written around, so it is less horrific than it could be (for the reader), and sally manages to find small moments of comfort and companionship as she’s being dragged across the country by her abductor.

my biggest takeaway from this (because it feels weird to say ‘the thing i most enjoyed') were the specifics of the real-life case, about which i knew nothing before reading this. although many many scenes were invented for narrative impact, the things that i believe were factual are surprising - that her mother handed her over to this man, that he allowed her to attend school(s) on their way across the country without her escaping or asking for help, and her ultimate fate (which i accidentally learned when i was just a few pages from encountering it in the book - oops).

the ease with which sally was manipulated by this man is horrifying and frustrating and makes you want to grab a time travel machine and create a million NO! GO! TELL! PSAs all over the past, and the one-after-another ways she was let down by well-intentioned, would-be rescuers (although i believe they were all apocryphal) are even more frustrating.

i just never felt drawn into this book, and while that’s probably a relief for most readers, considering the subject matter, it didn’t work for me. i already read at an emotional reserve because of my robot sensibilities, so it doesn’t bother me to look tragedy in the eye, and i tend to prefer overkill and melodrama to tasteful restraint.

i’m glad i read it, because i do think it is going to be a big deal book and a popular choice for book clubs. it held my interest and made me more inclined to read The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World when it comes out in september, and any book that leads you to another book is a winner in my eyes.

3.5 still-solidifying stars...

review to come.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Julie .
4,000 reviews58.9k followers
December 5, 2018
Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood is a 2018 St. Martin’s Press publication.

Rarely do I happen to read a non-fictional account of a book before I read the fictionalized version. Usually, it is the other way around. However, I requested this book and ‘The Real Lolita” at the same time from the library, and as fate would have it, the true crime book became available first.

This book had a very long ‘hold’ period, so I was caught off guard when It suddenly became available, a couple of weeks after I finished ‘TRL’. I am not a fan of reading books with the exact same subject matter too close together. However, because this is a library loan, and I didn’t want to get back in line for it later, I just had to suck it up.

The story of Sally Horner has suddenly become a hot topic. Her role in Vladimir Nabakov’s creation of ‘Lolita’ has recently come under great scrutiny. For me, all of the hype and speculation on that front, drowns out the true horror of what Sally Horner endured during her captivity.

Blessedly, this author leaves out the Nabokov conjectures during the telling of Sally’s ordeal, and keeps the focus on Sally and her family, where it should be.

Although this is a fictionalized account of Sally’s troubled life, the author did a very credible job of recreating this vulnerable, lonely girl and vividly depicts her harrowing experience at the hands Frank LaSalle, and her ultimate release from his grasp.

Sally’s life is a troubled one, very sad, and full of tragedy. This book does her story justice, and handled the emotions and criminal parts of her life with great respect and dignity, while giving the reader a full -blown view of what this child suffered.

This I my first book by T. Greenwood. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about his author, and now I see why she is held in such high regard. This book is utterly absorbing, very well written, although I am sure the story must have been an emotional undertaking.

I am glad to see that Sally has not been forgotten. I do wish she didn’t have to share the spotlight with Nabakov, but at least her journey goes a long way towards dispelling some myths associated with the case and its connection to ‘Lolita’.

If you are interested in Sally’s life, my advice would be to read this fictionalize account before reading ‘The Real Lolita’. Both books are good, both are very thought provoking, and both would serve well as book club reads. This one, however, gives Sally’s case the absolute undivided attention it deserves.

4 stars
Profile Image for Holly  B (busy month catching up).
799 reviews1,806 followers
July 21, 2018

Had to finish, had to know

I’m not going to have the words to describe how heart-broken I was the WHOLE time I was reading this book. The writing flowed so perfectly, I couldn’t pull myself away from the story. I adored the little girl, Sally and was terrified for her. I wanted to hear her voice, this was her voice.

Based on the true kidnapping of 11-year-old Florence “Sally” Horner by the 52-year-old monster, Frank LaSalle. I did some research after I finished this novel and was able to read some newspaper articles and see some photographs of Sally.

When this abduction occurred in 1958, there were no cameras to help detectives or cell phones to trace children. It took police two years to catch up with this monster that had Sally. She endured much, but her voice is heard in this story. Awareness of sexual predators is much greater today, but sadly they do exist.

I’m glad to have met Sally through this story, although my heart is forever broken. The story was just so flawless and engaging that I finished it in two days. I couldn’t put it down. I had to find out how it would end.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press for my Advanced Reading Copy.
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
475 reviews1,308 followers
September 18, 2018
Little Sally Horner sitting on a corner. Except Sally is not Jack and this is no nursery rhyme. Instead this is a horrific and tragic story of the abduction of an 11 year old girl in 1948. This is based on the true story where Sally is given voice of who she may have been and how she survived an experience that would shape her life drastically as well as those who knew her.

This is not an easy read -
It’s disturbing as this child was molested repeatedly. But, there are relationships that bring a dimension of hope. There are moments of beauty when everything seems dark and ugly. It’s the story of a girl who will forever be lost but touched by the stars to make her whole and it will break your heart.
Profile Image for Jenny.
269 reviews95 followers
August 26, 2018
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. #netgalkey #rustandstardust
Profile Image for jessica.
2,508 reviews31k followers
January 21, 2019
‘and the rest is rust and stardust.’
- vladimir nabokov, lolita

everyone has heard of ‘lolita,’ one of the most iconic and controversial novels of the 20th century. but not everyone has heard of the real life events which propelled the story of lolita into motion.

sally horner was an 11-year-old girl who was kidnapped and held by a convicted sex offender for nearly two years, taking her from new jersey all the way to california.

this book is about sally, her innocence and loss thereof, the motivation behind the most vile of crimes, and the strength of a family waiting for their daughter and sister to come home.

and although this is a work of fiction, sallys voice is not. its so necessary for her story to be told, no matter how uneasy or difficult it is to read, and t. greenwood does it justice.

the writing is so emotive and tangible, really lending itself to speak on behalf of sally. its evident that greenwood did her research and, although some events are heavily fictionalised, i feel like no biography or wikipedia page can capture the true horror sally went through quite like this book.

a definite must read for those who enjoy true crime stories but, due to the subject matter, reader discretion is advised.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,086 reviews30.1k followers
August 7, 2018
5 sensitive stars to Rust & Stardust! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 And Happy Publication Day!

Even though I knew this would be a heart-rending book, I trusted Greenwood to write in a respectful way without being sensationally graphic, and somehow, even knowing the devastating ending ahead of time, there were peeks of hope that kept this from being an overwhelmingly bleak book.

In Camden, New Jersey in 1948, 11-year old Sally Horner is desperate to be seen and have friendships, to be part of the group. In order to be initiated into a group of girls, she is told she has to steal a notebook from Woolworth’s. Frank LaSalle, a seedy and convicted felon recently released from prison, catches her in the act and misleadingly portrays himself as an FBI worker.

What follows is the two tragic years Sally spends with LaSalle, as they travel cross country, and he repeatedly abuses her.

Even though I knew how it would unfold because it is a story based on true events, at each step, I was hoping, practically pleading, for a different outcome for Sally. There are opportunities for help and near misses, and each time, I kept hoping.

T. Greenwood uses a deft and sensitive hand along with beautiful writing to paint this somber story with respect to Sally Horner and her family and to give them a voice in these disheartening and devastating events. The Author’s Note is not to be missed and shows the heart of the author.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the advance review copy. All opinions are my own.

My reviews can also be found on my blog:
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12k followers
September 13, 2018
How do you even write a review for a book that was so harrowing to read but yet so beautiful at the same time?

This book literally shattered me and had me feeling so distressed and left me feeling completely numb in the end. Sally Horner will be forever in my heart and never forgotten!

I am so glad though that I had the pleasure of reading Sally Horner’s horrific story even though it was absolutely heartbreaking, T. Greenwood handles the tough subject matter with such grace and care. She is an absolutely brilliant and phenomenal writer!

RUST & STARDUST by T. GREENWOOD is an extremely emotional, chilling, and heart-wrenching story that is fictional based on the real-life kidnapping of 11-year-old Sally Horner.

T. GREENWOOD delivers an engaging, suspenseful, and extremely well-written read here that was definitely difficult to read but I was totally invested in Sally and her family and couldn’t put it down. I did have to distance myself a few times though because I knew this story was going to be gut-wrenching and get under my skin.

The story is told in multiple perspectives between Sally and her family as well as people that Sally came into contact with in those two horrific years of captivity. With so much despair there was still a really nice balance of love and hope that was given to us to hold close to our hearts hoping for a positive outcome for Sally.

I really love T. Greenwood’s writing style and can so relate to the way she writes and I think that makes for a very special and extremely talented author. Would highly recommend!

*Traveling Friends Read*

I absolutely fell in love with T. Greenwood’s novels after reading Where I Lost Her which is one of my all-time favourite books!

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Eye-catching, extremely fitting and an obscure representation to storyline.
Title: Drew me in instantly & subtly ties into plot.
Writing/Prose: Beautiful, meaningful, gentle
Ending: Bittersweet, emotional
Overall: An outstanding read! Would highly recommend to anyone but be prepared for an intense emotional journey.

Review written and posted on Two Sisters Lost In A Coulee Reading book blog:
Profile Image for JanB .
1,127 reviews2,293 followers
August 19, 2018
4.5 stars, rounded up

First off, I apologize in advance for my wordy review, but there were some things I just had to say!

It was 1948 when 11-year-old Sally Horner, desperate to fit in, accepted a dare from the popular girls to shoplift something from a Woolworth’s store. She took a 5 cent notebook and was grabbed on her way out by Frank La Salle. He told her he was an FBI agent and she was under arrest, but if she did as he directed he could keep her out of prison. Terrified, Sally followed his instructions.

In truth, Frank La Salle was a pedophile who had just been released from prison where he was serving time for the statutory rape of young girls. Sally ends up being a captive of La Salle’s for nearly 2 years, years she was physically, mentally, and sexually abused. Sally Horner was the real-life inspiration for Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, Lolita. I’ve never read Lolita nor do I have any desire to do so. I had not heard of Sally Horner until reading this book.

In 1948 11-year-olds can’t be compared to today’s youth. The internet didn’t exist, there were no warnings of stranger danger, no Amber alerts or faces on milk cartons, and professionals weren’t trained in detecting abuse. Sally was naïve and trusting and believed whatever Frank told her. Frank was wily and cunning and knew just what to tell her to keep her in line.

Sally’s story is not an easy one to read but in the author’s hands she deals with the subject sensitively and respectfully, never giving the reader unnecessary details. The story is told through multiple points of view, with chapters narrated by Sally, her mother, her sister and brother-in-law, and some of the people who came into contact with her during her captivity. Sadly, there were so many missed opportunities to help Sally, but there were also people like Lena, Sister Mary Katherine, and Ruth who showed Sally kindness and love.

I’ve seen some people question why didn’t Sally tell others what was happening to her even though she attended school and was out in public? None of us know the threats and manipulations she was subjected to on a daily basis. Plus, she was a child trying to stay alive in the hopes she would one day get to go home. In the words of Elizabeth Smart, also a victim of abduction and abuse:

“It is wrong for any person to ever judge someone in any situation saying, ‘Well, why didn’t you try to run? Why didn’t you scream? Why didn’t you try to do something?” she said. “That is so wrong and, frankly, offensive to even ask that question.”

One other thing that I want to mention is how the press treated Sally. There were no laws protecting minors or victims of sexual crimes. The press printed her name and details of her sexual abuse. They called her chubby even though at 5 feet tall she weighed 110#. Hardly chubby! Even if she was chubby, how offensive to mention a victim's weight, as if it matters.

Upon her rescue Sally did not receive counseling or psychiatric help. One can only wonder at the emotional damage and the pain and anguish she endured long after her captivity ended. My heart hurt for Sally. Although it can be difficult to read, I think it's important that on behalf of all victims of abuse we know her story.

The author’s note indicates this story mirrors the real-life Sally Horner, although some details and conversations were imagined. I did my own internet research into the case and was pleasantly surprised at how closely the author’s story followed the truth. The author’s writing is a fitting tribute to Sally in making her story known to the world.

• Many thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
• I read this with the Traveling Friends reading group on Goodreads where our discussions always make the experience better.
Profile Image for Debbie W..
708 reviews453 followers
October 9, 2021
Based on the premise of this story, I kept putting off listening to this audiobook because I was terrified of what I might hear, until one reviewer assured that, although disturbing with implied actions, this book doesn't contain graphic sexual content.

It was time.

Author T. Greenwood took this 1948 true crime and wrote a heart-wrenching story about Sally Horner, an 11-year old girl who was abducted by convicted child molester, Frank LaSalle, and suffered from his physical, mental and sexual abuse for two years. This real-life kidnapping even inspired Vladimir Nabokov to pen Lolita! I also Googled these people and found copies of certain photos mentioned in this story.

Greenwood's powerfully expressive and articulate writing led me to:
- moan in dismay during each setback Sally faced due to LaSalle's cunning lies and threats;
- understand and believe, considering the time period, why certain detrimental choices were made;
- feel the intense anguish and guilt of several characters; and,
- be so moved at various intervals in this story that I had to stop whatever I was doing and just sob!

I highly recommend listening to this audiobook, because narrator Thérèse Plummer:
- has a "whispery" voice suitable for this story;
- is incredibly realistic, both as male and female, young and old; and,
- had me so invested as to be on the edge of my seat for the entire story!

Another wonderfully-written story for my Favorites bookshelf! Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,918 reviews35.4k followers
May 8, 2018
“He touched her face, and her body stiffened”.
“Don’t worry about your mama, Sally. They’ll forget about you soon. It’ll be like you never was”.

Oh please.......the storytelling - *Fiction Scenarios* - we are asked to believe were so far fetched....I found myself hysterically laughing reading pages of this NOVEL to my husband. It was my gut reaction! I started this book with high hopes too—expecting first class reading as so many of my friends on the Goodreads train felt. But I just couldn’t buy the fiction choices picked to tell this story. Some parts were so far out in left spoiled the authenticity for me of the tragedy .
The true story itself and for all kids who are abducted - raped by so devastating horrific —that the fictional drama added took away from the genuine emotions of the real issue at hand.

This story is inspired by a real kidnapping of a girl named Sally Horner. I did some research myself on Sally Horner. The author got a few facts right — but the things she added were preposterous. Wikipedia was at least factual - leaving it at that. No needed cocktails to buzz the brain.

The writing — in my opinion - had a little warmth - but it was also dull and flat...journalistic style:
He said. She said. He did. She did. On Sunday morning this happened...On Monday morning ‘that’ happened...
“When she knocked on Sally’s door, she hoped it would be Sally who’d answer”.

Honestly.... I didn’t care much for this book - but I respect and appreciate that others do - have - and will.

Short chapters:
......voices by...Sally, Ella, Atlantic City, New Jersey, Susan, Sister Mary Katherine, Vivi, Sammy, Dallas,Texas, Ruth, Al, Lena, San Jose, California, Margaret.

The Author’s Notes at the end.....reporting that in 1948 Sally Horner was in headlines across the country. Vladimir Nabokov was struggling to write ‘Lolita’....( Sally Horner ‘his’ inspiration?)....
This book is the authors imagination. She is at biographer not a true crime writer… a novelist.
Tammy Greenwood said, “her book is a work of fiction”.
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews921 followers
October 19, 2018
"She curled herself into a ball and imagined she was made not of bones but of sticks. Twigs. Gnarled and brittle limbs broken off from their roots. She and the tumbleweeds were no different, both of them at the whim of a terrible wind."

I'll preface this review by saying that Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is my favorite book thus this story by T. Greenwood was a must-read for me. Rust and Stardust is a fictional rendering of the real-life kidnapping of eleven year old Sally Horner in 1948. This case is briefly mentioned by Nabokov in his novel therefore it is widely speculated that Sally's story may have been the inspiration for Lolita.

There is nothing light in this book, it is dark from beginning to end. Greenwood has done an exceptional job at weaving this true crime plot into imaginary existence. The writing is beyond reproach with fully developed credible characters that walk you through this tragedy seamlessly.

Highly recommend.

I was provided an ARC of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,122 followers
April 11, 2018
4.5 Stars.

Oh. My. Gosh......Heartbreaking.

June, 1948....Lonely at age 11, all Florence "Sally" Horner wanted was join the secret girl's club, but her initiation 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 pervert...lier and destroyer of the young and innocent.

After finishing the novel, I did a bit of research....found the staged swing more about Sally's family and discovered so much of this 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.)

Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the ARC coming August 7, 2018 in exchange for my review.

August 22, 2018
4.5 stars! Heart-wrenching and unforgettable.

This novel is based on the real-life story of eleven-year-old Sally Horner who, in 1948, was kidnapped and held captive for two years, physically and mentally assaulted by known convict Frank LaSalle.

This is not an easy story to read. I found myself holding my breathe several times as I read through the harrowing and traumatic situations young Sally endured. She was a bright and vibrant child who fell into the hands of a predator who stripped her of her innocence. While many scenes were extremely difficult to accept, they were presented with sensitivity and care in a sincerely respectful manner, leaving out unnecessary detail that would have made this unbearable for me to read.

Sally’s character was innocent, naïve and loveable. I felt for her from the very first sentence. Her sister (Susan), brother-in-law (Al), Ruth and Sister Mary Katherine were stand out characters. The author, T. Greenwood, brilliantly captured their emotions, their struggles, their longing for answers, their hope. I was rooting for a reunion for this family. The writing was excellent. The story flowed effortlessly through multiple characters perspectives, each adding a new layer of emotion and intensity to the novel.

This was a Traveling Friends read. Due to the seriousness and heart-wrenching topic, it was wonderful to be able to experience this novel along with the Traveling Friends who held excellent discussion and provided support along the way. To find this review, along with the other Traveling Sister reviews, please visit our blog at:

A big THANK YOU to the lovely Marialyce who kindly sent me her copy of this unforgettable novel.

Rust & Stardust is AVAILABLE NOW!
Profile Image for Tammy.
506 reviews422 followers
February 25, 2018
On a dare, eleven year old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the Camden, New Jersey local five and dime store and winds up the victim of a serial pedophile recently released from prison and on the run from the authorities. For two years Sally is molested, transported across the country and terrified to tell anyone about her appalling plight. She attends school and lives among others in various trailer parks and hovels but even those suspicious of her situation are unable to act on her behalf. As is always the case with child abductions, there is more than one victim and I was struck by the gentleness with which the author cared for her characters. Sally Horner’s story is the inspiration for Lolita and I found this re-imagining to be much more distressing than Nabokov’s classic.
Profile Image for Marialyce (absltmom, yaya).
1,938 reviews722 followers
May 7, 2018
"Not even the brightest future can make up for the fact that no roads lead back to what came before-to the innocence of childhood or the first time we fell in love." Jo Nesbo

Most parents cherish their children's innocence. They long to preserve it as long as possible, and let their child feel that sense of wonder, that sense of awe, that sense of things being right with the world. Think back to the time when your child came home to say someone had told them Santa was not real. Remember that pain, that jolt, that reminder that a piece of your child's innocence had been taken. Now multiply that by a million....and that is what was taken from Sally.

Sally Horner was eleven. She was an innocent child, a shy child, a child who desperately wanted to belong, to have friends, to be accepted. Sally accepts a dare in order to join a cliche of girls. She is tasked with stealing something from Woolworth's. So she does, a trivial object, a notebook, and is caught by a man claiming to be an FBI agent who scares and terrorizes Sally saying that she will be arrested and sent away. Sally is frightened, she falls prey to this man who is a predator and through his manipulation and Sally's mother, a poor soul herself suffering from the suicide of her husband, Sally's stepfather, as well as rheumatoid arthritis believed the story he wove. He spirits Sally away first to Jersey, then to Texas, and finally to California. She is gone, vanished into the wind, and the police, her mother, her older sister and her husband are left bereft and wonder where Sally has gone.

Sally has been taken by an evil man, a sexual predator, a manipulator who turns young innocence into shame, fear, and longing for the ways things use to be, for family, for someone who cares and does not abuse Sally's heart, mind, and soul.

Ms Greenwood has turned this true happening into a story of pain, loss, and pathos that breaks one's heart. She weaves the story, seeming to crawl into Sally's mind and heart as she relates to the reader what Sally feels and what she has lost. This is not a book about the horrendous things done to Sally, no vivid details are related. This is not a book of sensationalism, but a book of compassion for a young life that was lost, for Sally's loss of innocence is the loss of her young life. It is the loss of growing into oneself, the loss of play, the loss of the sense of carefree days where one was able to while away, a day of childhood doing childhood things. This vile predator stole Sally's sense of wonder, he stole her life in essence and brought her to a point where she thought there was no way to return. Once innocence is lost, there is no regaining it.

all the rest was rust and stardust (Lolita) For Sally there was nothing but rust, the stardust had long disappeared.

Enormous thanks to T. Greenwood for writing a story that was sensitive, kind, emotional, understanding. She has once again captured the consciousness of being a victim, of feeling like you have no voice, of being ashamed and ever so vulnerable. Thanks also to Holly who knowing how I feel about this author and this book made it available to me.

You can follow my reviews on my blog https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...
This book will be available on August 7, 2018
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