In Rust, Eliese brings the reader inside the belly of the mill and the middle American upbringing that brought her there in the first place. She takes a long and intimate look at her Rust Belt childhood and struggles to reconcile her desire to leave without turning her back on the people she's come to love.
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.