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BNH Book Review: "Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit"

Published Friday Jul 17, 2020

Author Terri Schlichenmeyer of The Bookworm Sez

“Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit”
by Eliese Colette Goldbach
2020/Flatiron Books   
$27.99/320 pages

At nine years old, Eliese Colette Goldbach wanted to be a nun. Later, at a Catholic college, rape and a mental illness completely altered her path. By almost 30 years old, she was broke and tired of a mouse-infested apartment  and a junk car, so when she heard that the steel mill in her hometown of Cleveland was hiring, she applied.

To her surprise, she got a job. There was a lot to learn inside the factory. It started with the language of the place, where all new employees were “Orange Hats”  and where calling a golf cart anything but a “buggy” was ridiculed. It progressed through an assignment at the plant that everybody referred to as the “Country Club,” to a shift in the dangerous department called “Hot Dip” and back. It allowed Goldbach to buy a new car and to rent a better apartment, but the swing shifts exacerbated her illness and she grew to hate the person she was when she got off work. That messed with a relationship that she thought was secure.

And yet, the job taught her that she was strong as the steel she helped make. Steel might not be the sexiest product ever made but, like people, it holds up under pressure.

Inside Goldbach’s “Rust,” you get a business book, a memoir, and something health related.

Goldbach gives readers an insider’s look at steel-making—not only the actual product, but what it’s like on the factory floor and in the break rooms. Goldbach also offers insight to Rust Belt politics and why the last election turned out as it did. And in vivid passages, she describes what it’s like to live with bi-polar disorder while under pressure at a new job. If you’re looking for something entirely different, “Rust” should be a strong contender.

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