Rusty-James is the younger brother of Motorcycle Boy in S. E. Hinton’s acclaimed, violent, and action-packed coming of age novel Rumble Fish. He’s the main character of the novel, who, at 14, has already started to drink, play pool, smoke, and is the leader of a small, dying gang.
The story revolves around Rusty-James’ struggle to live up to Motorcycle Boy’s reputation, and his longing for the glory days, when gang warfare was more active than it is in the industrial town in which the story takes place.
Virtually an orphan, with his mother gone, a father who drinks, an education that is meaningless for him and relationships that lack substance, he allows himself to be drawn into one last gang fight in which his older brother is killed and he is sent to a reformatory.
The title comes from a scene towards the end of the book where Motorcycle Boy is in a pet store staring at some Siamese Fighting Fish which he calls Rumble Fish.