Rust Belt Femme (ebook)

By Raechel Anne Jolie 

One of NPR's "Best books of 2020"
Winner of the 2020 Independent Publisher Awards' Gold Medal for LGBTQ+ Nonfiction

"Quite possibly the first book that’s ever made me well up with tears within the first few pages....[Jolie's] story is both remarkable and utterly ordinary; any dreamy kid who grew up broke and weird will see a spark of themselves in this book, which is also why it’s so important."—Kim Kelly, The New Republic

Raechel Anne Jolie’s early life in a working-class Cleveland exurb was full of race cars, Budweiser-drinking men covered in car grease, and the women who loved them. After her father came home from his third-shift job, took the garbage out to the curb and was hit by a drunk driver, suffering a debilitating brain injury, her life changed.

Raechel and her mother struggled for money: they were evicted, went days without utilities, and took their trauma out on one another. Raechel escaped to the progressive suburbs of Cleveland Heights, leaving the tractors and ranch-style homes home in favor of a city with vintage marquees, music clubs, and people who talked about big ideas. It was the early 90s, full of Nirvana songs and chokers, flannel shirts and cut-off jean shorts, lesbian witches and local coffee shops.

Rust Belt Femme is the story of how these twin foundations—rural Ohio poverty and alternative 90s culture—made Raechel into who she is today: a queer femme with PTSD and a deep love of the Midwest.

Raechel Anne Jolie received her PhD in Communication Studies with a minor in Gender & Sexuality Studies from the University of Minnesota. Her writing has been published in Teen Vogue, Bitch Magazine, In These Times, and more. You can find her @reblgrrlraechel or at

More praise for Rust Belt Femme:

"A sharp coming-of-age portrait." —Kirkus Reviews

"Jolie’s voice is at once funny and heart-wrenching, putting every reader who wanted to be part of a scene back into their adolescent shoes."―Alicia Kennedy, Tenderly

"Affection for the Midwest shines in tender descriptions that verge on the romantic."Ilona Westfall, Cleveland Magazine

"Compassionate and political, queer and punk and angry, Rust Belt Femme shows with grace and grit how community can save your life." Michelle Tea, author of How to Grow Up: A Memoir

"A story of love and a testament of forgiveness, Rust Belt Femme is a thoughtful and personal examination of class and gender, and how Jolie found her peace with both. A narrative of strength and resilience, Jolie writes simply and beautifully about growing up poor and other, while also acknowledging the privilege she did have."Lara Lillibridge, Hippocampus Magazine

"Rust Belt Femme is a brilliant mixed tape of a memoir, a love song to the family and friends, the songs and sacred places, that helped Raechel Anne Jolie grow into the fierce thinker and passionate writer she is. This miraculous little book manages to plumb the depths of poverty, trauma, punk rock, maternal devotion, young love, and queer identity in language that is lyric and precise. I was blown away. You will be too."Steve Almond, author of Candyfreak and Against Football

"With Rust Belt Femme, Raechel Anne Jolie unveils a crystal ball, releasing a vivid love letter to her past, her mother, herself, and to Cleveland. Her clarity about how she became who she is takes us through an iconic time we may all have experienced, no matter where we are from. Her stunning writing [alone] makes me want to become a better writer." —Iliana Regan, author of Burn the Place

For media inquiries, please contact Michelle Blankenship at 

MARCH 10, 2020 | ISBN: 978-1948742634 | MEMOIR | HARDCOVER | 5 x 7.25 | 176 PAGES

See also: 

Cleveland Bundle

Belt Memoir Bundle