In 1948, 11-year-old Sally Horner stole a notebook from Woolworth’s. Frank LaSalle, newly released from prison, witnessed the theft and grabbed Sally, telling her he was with the FBI. Terrified of getting in trouble, she agreed to leave with him, and she didn’t come home for two years.
I was drawn to read this novel after discovering that Sally’s story inspired Nabokov’s Lolita.
Rust and Stardust is a fictionalized account of what may have happened during Sally’s two years on the run with Frank LaSalle. LaSalle mentally and physically abused Sally, convincing her at first that he was the law, then that he was her real father. Sally was naïve and gullible, believing that she had to keep quiet or she would get in trouble. He took her across the country, evading the police and the FBI, telling neighbors that Sally was his daughter.
No one thought to question his story.
Rust and Stardust gives life to a real story that has almost been lost to history. Told from multiple points-of-view, the story follows Sally’s nightmare with Frank LaSalle, and also the horrible anguish of her family searching for her. The author deftly recreates Sally’s thought processes, showing how this young girl could believe such outlandish lies even while enduring abuse and isolation. Even though I knew the outcome, this was a gripping story. My heart was racing while I turned the pages.
Many thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the advance copy in exchange for my honest review.