Well, here we are folks with my first post to the Recipe & A Read blog!! Today I’ll be reviewing Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood along with a recipe for “Luminous” Lo Mein.
Rust & Stardust
Initial Thoughts: Give me a moment while I roll up my podium, pull down the screen, power up my projector and start my powerpoint presentation on what a magnificent literary masterpiece this novel turned out to be!!
I think I could’ve stabbed myself in the eye with a fork and it would’ve hurt less than this book.
Ok, all jokes aside – this isn’t a funny book at all. It’s heartbreaking and left me feeling empty and stunned but in awe of Greenwood and her ability in her craft. This is easily the newest member of my favorites shelf and any reader with an appreciation for storytelling would do well to pick this up.
This is a work of historical fiction based off of the real case of Sally Horner and her abductor Frank LaSalle. After her abduction, LaSalle keeps Sally captive convincing her he is an FBI agent and dragging her all over the country as he evades the real FBI for 2 years. Needless to say, but to note for future readers – it’s rare that old, creepy men kidnap young girls for reasons that aren’t disturbing and traumatizing. These scenes are handled with the utmost care by Greenwood but could be triggering for some readers.
Susan woke up that September morning and felt a distinct chill run like ice water down her back. Her first waking thought was of Sally. This is how she’d woken every morning for over a year now. Not with the soft ascent from the depths of a dream but with the sharp bite, that cold blade of the truth. This is the cruelty of grief. The way it gathers strength in the night, blooming again and again and again. There was nothing she could do to combat it other than allow its icy fingers to dig in and then to move on.
Greenwood’s command of language is nothing short of awe-inspiring. For such a terribly heart-wrenching story the beauty of Greenwood’s writing skill really shines through. We’re given multiple POVs throughout, most notably that of Sally, her mother Ella, her sister and brother-in-law Susan and Al and unlikely friends she makes during her captivity. It was an incredibly clever way to show that while the saying is that it takes a village to raise a child – that same village is also irrevocably changed when tragedy strikes.
I was incredibly emotionally invested in this story and following the last line on the last page, I delved into further research into the truth behind this work of fiction. I highly suggest not looking into the case if you’re unfamiliar with it prior to reading it only if you’re interested in being surprised by the ending. It feels crass to call anything in this book a “twist” but it took me by surprise and while I thought my heart had no more room to crumble, apparently I was mistaken.
How sad was it that grief had a shelf life, he thought. It’s only fresh and raw for so long before it begins to spoil. And soon enough, it would be replaced by a newer, brighter heartache – the old one discarded and eventually forgotten.
The entire read was very visceral and raw for me. I’d think in most forms of art (and this is a work of art) the goal is to make those interacting with your piece feel something. I can tell you, this book is steeped in emotion. I was left enormously impressed with Greenwood and I look forward to reading further works by her. For such a heartbreaking story, Greenwood honored Sally with this retelling and brought beauty to something so horrendous I wouldn’t have thought it possible.
I read this with some wonderful ladies in the Traveling Friends group on Goodreads and we have all been equally blown away by this story. It’s rare that books live up to the hype, but I’ll let all readers know – this absolutely lives up to the reviews. I am one smitten kitten this now gets to sit on my bookshelf.
Suggested for: Anyone with an appreciation for language and storytelling, lovers of suspense or historical fiction.
Luminous Lo Mein Recipe:
- Servings: 4
- Prep-Time: 5-10 minutes (depending on any edits you make)
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30-35 minutes
- Pans Required: 1
- 8 Ounces Lo Mein noodles (this is really a preference thing here, and they technically aren’t Lo Mein but I prefer Haiku Asian style noodles for all of my Asian noodle dishes)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
- 5-6 sweet peppers, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 cup shelled edamame beans
- 1 cup grated carrots
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
Easy edits to make on your end, per preference:
- You can easily use canola or vegetable oil if you don’t have sesame on hand.
- I love the little sweet peppers and always have them in the fridge. However, if you prefer bell pepper it can easily take the place of the sweet peppers.
- Snap peas are a staple in Asian noodle dishes. My husband hates them – I replaced them with shelled edamame beans but feel free to use snap peas if preferred.
- I’m lazy AF so I don’t grate my own carrots – I buy pre-julienned bags but if you’re feeling extra go ahead and peel and grate the carrot yourself!
- You don’t necessarily have to use low sodium soy sauce, but regular tends to over salt your dish (even if you don’t add any extra salt).
- We are not a mushroom family – but that would be an excellent veggie to add to this to round it out!
- You can add chicken, beef, pork or tofu into this as you see fit. I prefer mine veggie as it takes less prep and clean up but a protein would be delicious here and wouldn’t change any of the measurements of the dish. If you do add a protein be sure to chop it up into bite size pieces for the cooking instructions below.
- Cook noodles according to packaged directions and drain. (I boil water in my kettle and pour into a hot cast iron skillet with the noodles – they are similar to ramen so they cook in 3-5 minutes with boiling water. This makes this recipe a one-pot meal – but you can cook the pasta in a separate pot if you prefer!)
- In a large skillet (#CastIronForever) over medium-high heat add and heat the oil. Add onion and cook until translucent and begins to caramelize (5-6 minutes)
- Add broccoli, edamame, garlic and sweet peppers to the skillet and cook until tender (6-7 minutes)
- If you are adding a protein – after you cook the veggies add it into the skillet and cook until golden and no longer pink and at temperature.
- Remove veggies from pan and add in hoisin and soy sauce to pan, let simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add noodles and veggies and toss to combine.
Quote: “…stars that are closer to us seem to shine brighter. But some are simply more luminous. And Sally would carry this knowledge with her, the word “luminous” at the tip of her tongue.”
Music Mood: Beyond by Leon Bridges
Have you read Rust & Stardust before? What did you think? Do you have a go-to Lo Mein recipe? Drop me a note and let me know!