Rust is a memoir of an ordinary person, but a person who has faced incredible personal challenges. It is the true story of the author, who was struggling in her post-graduate life to find her path in the world. Eliese finds herself back in her hometown of Cleveland, a place she never thought she would end up in as an adult. She rode out the Great Recession by enrolling in graduate school only to graduate and be faced with a pile of student loan debt. She earned her graduate degree but never filed a missing form to receive her diploma. And so she finds herself painting houses for a living, and deciding between paying rent or buying food. Eliese is hiding from the real world.
A friend suggested that she try and get a spot working at Cleveland’s Steel Mill. Eliese is familiar with the mill, as she has seen the orange flame all of her young life. She can’t believe it, but she ends up as a steelworker and a union member before she turns 30. Eliese firmly thought that she wanted to be a nun for most of her life, so the steel mill was a far cry from organized religion.
The book bounced back and forth between her time at the mill and her childhood. At first, these transitions confused me, and I didn’t understand why we needed all of this personal backstory. Her story started off sounding like e a “whiny millennial,” a generalization which she often references in the book.
But all of the sudden, everything snapped into place, and a lot of the author’s backstory became incredibly relevant to her mill life, her relationships, and even the current political dynamics in our country. Working as a steelworker with a liberal arts degree is the hook of the book, but the book is really about this young woman’s life. And by the end of the book, I was glad that she shared her story with us.
Rust did not grab me at first, but I found this memoir interesting as I usually would never pick up this novel by choice. Steel doesn’t interest me, and Cleveland doesn’t interest me (sorry!), and I have had bad luck with memoirs written by regular people. I suggest that people give this book a chance to read a remarkable story of a young woman’s journey to overcome setbacks and find herself in the world. The book was a good reminder that our happiness and goals change over time, and your life will look different than what you thought it would be.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy of the book and the opportunity to give my honest feedback.
Some stats, as I like stats:
Finished on January 20, 2020, took 17 days to read (I read another book in the middle of it)
4 stars on Goodreads
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