Excerpt from Rust & Stardust by T Greenwood, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Rust & Stardust

by T Greenwood

Rust & Stardust by T Greenwood X
Rust & Stardust by T Greenwood
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  • Published:
    Aug 2018, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Natalie Vaynberg

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SALLY

The girls at school had a club, a secret club with secret rules. Beyond the playground under the trees' dark leaves, they pressed their fathers' stolen blades against their plump thumbs, watched the blood bead before pressing their flesh together and swearing loyalty. Sally Horner spied them from the swings where she dragged her shoes in the dirt, her fingers pinched by the chains. She studied them as they stood in a circle, sucking the metallic blood, tongues working over those important wounds. She strained to hear their whispered oath, this sisterhood spell. Mesmerized.

At lunch later, she peered at them from the table in the cafeteria where she normally sat alone, nibbling at her butter sandwich or peeling back the golden skin of her butterscotch pudding. But her need to understand what sort of coven had been formed underneath those red oaks was irresistible, though it took her nearly ten minutes to pick up her lunch tray, go to their table, and speak to them.

"Mind if I sit here?" she said softly to the one whose hair reminded her of the white fluff inside of a milkweed pod, Irene, who looked up at her and then turned back to her friend.

"I saw you at recess," Sally tried again, smiling.

"You didn't see nothin'," the one with the red hair said. Bess was her name.

"I did. Over by the trees. It looked like—"

"What are you, some sort of spy?" Irene hissed. Her eyes were icy blue.

Sally shook her head, and cast her gaze down at her shoes. This was a mistake.

"It's a club," the third one chimed in. Sally looked up, and the girl was smiling at her. She had black hair and dark blue eyes, a widow's peak. She reminded Sally of Elizabeth Taylor. "A secret sisterhood. We took an oath."

Sally thought of her own sister, Susan, living all the way in Florence ever since she and Al got married. Sometimes at night Sally would wake up, expecting to see her in the other bed, only to remember that she didn't live there anymore. It made her heart feel hollow, like an empty tin can.

"You can sit here," the dark-haired girl offered, gesturing to an empty seat.

Nervous, Sally sat down, and Irene huffed, reluctantly scooting her chair over to make room, metal feet scraping against the linoleum.

"I'm Vivi," the brunette said, and reached out to shake Sally's hand. "You're in our grade, right?"

"She's been in our grade forever," Bess said, rolling her eyes. "She's the one whose daddy got drunk over at Daly's and then—"

"Would you like to join our club?" Vivi interrupted.

"Really?" Sally said.

"Vivi," Irene scolded, but Vivi scowled.

"I mean, that would be keen," Sally said, trying not to seem too eager. "If you're accepting new members."

Irene sucked the last of her milk through her straw and stood up, hands on hips, elbows sharp as blades. "Well, she'd have to be initiated. Not just anybody can join."

"What do I gotta do?" Sally asked.

"You need to steal somethin'," Bess said.

"From the Woolworth's." Irene seemed to improvise. "After school."

"Oh," Sally said, suddenly thinking this wasn't such a good idea. What if she got caught? Once, when she'd accidentally walked out of the market holding an apple she forgot to pay for, her mother marched her back in with a nickel and an order to confess her crime and made her do the dishes every night for a week to earn that nickel back.

Vivi looked at her apologetically.

Bess snapped, "You want to be in the club, this is whatcha gotta do. Otherwise, you can just forget about it, and stop followin' us around."

Sally felt her skin flush hot. She knew she wasn't like these other girls, the ones with glossy hair and perfect smiles. Sally wore homemade dresses and hand-me-down shoes, while these girls got their clothes from the J.C. Penney. The shiny copper pennies they put in their loafers caught the sun. They were the keepers of light, Sally thought. Shining and bright.

Excerpted from Rust & Stardust by T Greenwood. Copyright © 2018 by T Greenwood. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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