Goldbach’s story has many threads, and for the most part she weaves them skillfully, pausing only a beat or two too long for lengthy explanations of the history of the steel industry, or the rise of Donald Trump ... Politics suffuses this book, as Goldbach tries to understand why her conservative, religious parents—as well as so many of her working-class colleagues— admire Trump, who, as the book unfolds, is about to be elected president. In this, she is nuanced and thoughtful, avoiding easy conclusions or stereotypes of working-class people. But the glowing core of this book is the steel plant. In scene after vivid scene, Goldbach brings to life the massive campus, the worn down and crotchety workers, the heat, the machinery, the dust, the physically grueling and dangerous work ... At times, she is a difficult protagonist to like—prickly and scared, and her bipolar disorder makes her paranoid and unreasonable. But as the book progresses, she...slowly grows from someone who feels that she doesn’t belong in the mill—or anywhere—to a capable and confident woman.
... has elements of Tara Westover’s but Goldbach’s background is not as extreme ... Goldbach tries to express how tragic it was to see her fellow laborers — and her parents — fall for Trump’s appeal to their baser instincts, but her prose is strongest when she sticks to the steel industry.
Goldbach tells the stories that [steelworkers] had no words for. She does that brilliantly, honouring the life of honest work lived by millions of American manual workers who complain that they are treated with disdain in today’s US ... narrative gems are strewn throughout Rust, many of them painful to behold ... Her narrative of...sexual assault, and her struggles with mental illness, are movingly and candidly told. Sometimes it feels as though they are strewn haphazardly on to the narrative cloth of the book, rather than woven into its fabric. As such the tale doesn’t always hang together as a satisfying whole. Yet on the most basic level, Rust does what the post-Trump industrial memoir is supposed to do: provide an insider’s glimpse into how blue-collar America lives.
To her credit, Goldbach shines little but love on the Cleveland steel industry. She knows it's the economic backbone to many lives, and because of this, it becomes the crux of this memoir as well. You have to zoom out of the story to understand the context Goldbach wants us to explore here. She's using her story to demonstrate some truths about the millennial generation in America ... We worry as she struggles through mental illness triggered by past traumas and the strange, unrelenting hours of the industrial worker. We see her fall, and we watch her build herself back up again. Fortunately we also get to laugh occasionally as she struggles with the nuances of the various factory jobs she trains for in the mill. Her ongoing battles with forklifts are especially hilarious. And even if the book is not really only about the steel mill, the mill is still the center, and the people within are the heart.
Ms. Goldbach’s debut book is an inspiring blend of autobiography, cultural commentary, and spirituality ... Ms. Goldbach skillfully interweaves her professional and personal comings of age, guiding us through the mill and her challenging, even dangerous positions, and the ambiguities of her relationship with the patient Tony ... Her descriptions of the work are vivid, particularly her accounts of catastrophic incidents in which life is lost ... Eliese Goldbach has learned to sing, in prose of passion and power.
...[Goldbach's] description of the initial safety videos and the weeks of training vividly catch us at each moment ... From the belly of the notorious steel mill, Goldbach draws us into the dirt, grime and dust, saying the only thing that shines is the steel ... The final arc of this memoir is Goldbach’s growing awareness of our country’s politics. She reads, argues and comes to realizations about what it means to work in the Rust Belt. That’s the thing that Trump got wrong ... The vibrant orange flame shooting above the Cleveland steel mill comes to represent the history, the mill family, the fight for fairness and equality. As Goldbach visits other cities and returns home to the flame, she realizes that she doesn’t know much about others and how easy it is not to see. And how easy it is not to look.
Goldbach, a writer and steelworker at the ArCellorMittal Cleveland Temper Mill in Cleveland, presents a complex, searing indictment of the present challenges facing employed and unemployed workers in the United States ... This beautifully told, nuanced memoir will strike a chord with fans of J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, and pique the interest of sociology scholars.
Bringing her perspective as an outsider—both as a woman and a liberal—to this insightful account of the steel worker’s lot, Goldbach displays refreshing candor and hard-earned knowledge about the issues that divide us and the work that unites us.
Ohioan Goldbach turns in a gritty memoir of working in a steel mill while wrestling with the world beyond ... The narrative sags every now and then, but one cheers for Goldbach when she’s finally offered the teaching post to which she’s so long aspired, entailing a massive pay cut and starting all over at the bottom, prepared to take that risk precisely because she has gained the necessary confidence on the shop floor—and saved enough to do so thanks to the decent, union-backed wages she earned ... An affecting, unblinking portrait of working-class life.
A female steelworker confronts extreme heat, psychological turmoil, and Trumpian culture clash in this soulful portrait of industrial life ...Goldbach’s evocative prose paints a Dantean vision of the mill ... but she discovers in the plant’s quirky, querulous employees an ethic of empathy and solidarity that bridges ideological divides. The result is an insightful and ultimately reassuring take on America’s working class.