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Rust : a memoir of steel and grit

by Goldbach, Eliese Colette, 1986-

Format: Print Book 2020
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"Elements of Tara Westover's Educated... The mill comes to represent something holy to [Eliese] because it is made not of steel but of people."
-- New York Times Book Review

One woman's story of working in the backbreaking steel industry to rebuild her life -- but what she uncovers in the mill is much more than molten metal and grueling working conditions. Under the mill's orange flame she finds hope for the unity of America.

Steel is the only thing that shines in the belly of the mill...

To ArcelorMittal Steel Eliese is known as #6691: Utility Worker, but this was never her dream. Fresh out of college, eager to leave behind her conservative hometown and come to terms with her Christian roots, Eliese found herself applying for a job at the local steel mill. The mill is everything she was trying to escape, but it's also her only shot at financial security in an economically devastated and forgotten part of America.

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. The people she sees as the unsung backbone of our nation.

Faced with the financial promise of a steelworker's paycheck, and the very real danger of working in an environment where a steel coil could crush you at any moment or a vat of molten iron could explode because of a single drop of water, Eliese finds unexpected warmth and camaraderie among the gruff men she labors beside each day.

Appealing to readers of Hillbilly Elegy and Educated , Rust is a story of the humanity Eliese discovers in the most unlikely and hellish of places, and the hope that therefore begins to grow.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "As part of a generation that grew up being told they could be anything they wanted to be, Goldbach had not imagined that her future would involve wearing a hardhat. But after an unexpected recession dimmed her prospects for the future, even as she was about to earn a graduate degree, Goldbach decided to trade her part-time work painting houses for the promise of steady income at the steel mill in her hometown of Cleveland. With the promise of a union position after six months, Goldbach lands a job in the finishing department. Under the constant threat of danger from the mill's machinery, she earns the coveted yellow hat worn by union employees by working swing shifts that push both her mental health and her relationship to the breaking point. 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.--Bridget Thoreson Copyright 2020 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "A female steelworker confronts extreme heat, psychological turmoil, and Trumpian culture clash in this soulful portrait of industrial life. Goldbach started working at the vast Arcelor Mitall steel plant in Cleveland in 2016 and spent three years performing dreary and dangerous jobs: sweeping up in cavernous buildings, hefting huge loads on unstable forklifts, tending giant steel coils that could crush her should they slip, donning a fire-retardant jumpsuit to rake dross out of a vat of molten zinc. She also weathered an overwhelmingly male workplace's assumptions about female incompetence along with erratic swing shifts that frazzled her relationship and her mental health as she struggled with bipolar disorder. Her story also focuses larger social conflicts as Goldbach, a onetime anti-abortion Catholic who became a liberal feminist after she was raped in college, contends with her parents' and coworkers' pro-Trump sentiments and with society's--and sometimes her own--disdain for blue-collar work. Goldbach's evocative prose paints a Dantean vision of the mill--"the buildings, which are covered in rust and soot, have taken on the blackish-red color of congealed blood"--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. (Mar.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Goldbach, Eliese Colette, -- 1986-
Women iron and steel workers -- Ohio -- Cleveland -- Biography.
Working class -- Ohio -- Cleveland -- Social conditions.
Publisher New York :2020
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description 310 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN 9781250239402
Other Classic View