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A reclamation of roots, Rust is a shining debut memoir of grit and tenacity and the hope that therefore begins to grow.

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Eliese Colette Goldbach



Raised by staunchly Republican and Catholic parents, Eliese dreamed of escaping Cleveland and achieving greatness in the convent as a nun. Full of promise and burgeoning ideals, she leaves her hometown, but one night her life’s course is violently altered. A night that sets her mind reeling and her dreams waning. A cycle of mania and depression sinks in where once there were miracles and prayers, and upon returning home she is diagnosed with mixed-state bipolar disorder.

Set on a path she doesn’t recognize as her own, Eliese finds herself under the orange flame of Cleveland’s notorious steel mill, applying for a job that could be her ticket to regaining stability and salvation. In Rust, Eliese invites the reader inside the belly of the mill. Steel is the only thing that shines amid the molten iron, towering cranes, and churning mills. Dust settles on everything – on forklifts and hard hats, on men with forgotten hopes and lives cut short by harsh working conditions, on a dismissed blue-collar living and on what’s left of the American dream.

But Eliese discovers solace in the tumultuous world of steel, unearthing a love and a need for her hometown she didn’t know existed. This is the story of the humanity Eliese finds in the most unlikely of places and the wisdom that comes from the very things we try to run away from most. A reclamation of roots, Rust is a shining debut memoir of grit and tenacity and the hope that therefore begins to grow.

‘a gritty coming-of-age memoir’
Martin Chilton, The Independent

‘A female steelworker’s 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’
Publisher’s Weekly

‘Eliese Colette Goldbach uses formal experiment, broken narrative, and a voice that admits doubt and questions the terms of its telling to fight silencing. Masterful form is often a question of well-managed ruptur’
Leslie Jamison, New York Times bestselling author of The Recovering

‘There have been a lot of books written about life in industrial cities in the Midwest, but relatively few written by people who actually live in them, and few so heartfelt and unsparing. Rust is at once a unique memoir and a broad indictment of America’s broken promise that anyone who came of age in the 21st century will find painfully familiar.’
Sarah Kendzior, New York Times bestselling author of The View from Flyover Country

Charlie LeDuff, New York Times bestselling author of Detroit: An American Autopsy

Rust is a soulful telling of America’s stubborn and forgotten core. Deeply honest and defying easy sentimentality, this book heralds the arrival of a true talent’
Adam Chandler, author of Drive-Thru Dreams

‘Goldbach turns in a gritty memoir of working in a steel mill while wrestling with the world beyond…. An affecting, unblinking portrait of working-class life
Kirkus Reviews

‘A haunting meditation from the far shores of addiction, mental illness, and obsession’
Ladette Randolph, author of Leaving the Pink House

‘In our whacked-out national moment, Eliese Colette Goldbach arrives in the nick of time, a fresh voice to revive an old, substantial truth: that one person’s hard work, achieved despite troubles of heart and finance, of faith and family, is the most enduring American value of all. Rust is a memoir of steel and grit, yes, but soul above all, a young Cleveland millworker’s eloquent tale of hard times that plants its boots squarely on the bookshelf of American working-class literature’
David Giffels, author of Barnstorming Ohio: To Understand America and The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches from the Rust Belt

Rust is a brave, heartfelt memoir whose pages overflow with hard-earned wisdom. Goldbach’s story of embodying our national extremes–conservative vs progressive, religious vs secular, white collar vs blue–has endowed her with a singular ability to see through our partisan delusions and identify what, truly, unites us still as Americans. If your heart, like mine, feels poisoned by this era of political division, Rust may just be the antidote for which you’ve been searching’
John Larison, author of an Entertainment Weekly Best Book Whiskey When We’re Dry

‘The steel mill burns on in the heart of Cleveland, and in the pages of Eliese Collette Goldbach’s transformative debut. This is indeed a memoir of steel and grit, the extraordinary work of every ordinary day. But like all great stories, Rust is also a love story?about a craft, a city, and the communities we forge there. Goldbach reminds us that what we make in turn makes us who and what we are’
Dave Lucas, author of Ohioana Book Award for Poetry winner Weather

‘Eliese Collete Goldbach might be the only essayist who does footnotes better than David Foster Wallace’
The Pitt News

‘Movingly and candidly told… At this most divisive moment in American politics, we could all learn from her example.’
Patti Waldmeir, The Financial Times