Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit

Flatiron: Macmillan. Mar. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781250239402. $27.99. BIOG
Goldbach, a writer and steelworker at the ArcelorMittal Cleveland Temper Mill in Cleveland, presents a complex, searing indictment of the present challenges facing employed and unemployed workers in the United States. Sharing her struggles with mental health issues, along with the residual psychological effects of sexual assault she endured as a college freshman, the author describes coping with the realities of poverty, and how, despite having a college degree, she came to work in a steel mill, a vestige of her hometown’s blue-collar past. These concerns lend a personal perspective to the broader topics the author discusses later involving health care inadequacies, the Me Too movement, and the current divisive political climate. In the mill, Goldbach found security in a well-paid union job but also encountered a culture of persistent misogyny in the majority-male workplace. Still, her respect for such dangerous work has led her to defend its dignity from derision by mainstream society.
VERDICT 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.

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