“Whew. This is a wildly ambitious, inventive debut.
Fern, Gwin, and Jesenia love music and school. They come from difficult backgrounds, namely in the form of emotionally-stunted mothers and absent or abusive fathers, and their lives are punctuated by what it means to be “good.” As adolescents, they are kidnapped and held hostage for ten years by the same man.
The structure is fractured and complicated, much like the lives of its central characters, with a range of voices telling the Before, During, and After of the abduction that so shaped their lives. In inimitable prose and voice-heavy passages, Ferrell examines the nature of victimhood placed upon the young women by society and how it both re-traumatizes them and perpetuates a rippling of the original trauma that affects them, their families, and the neighborhood for generations.”
CW: abuse, assault, rape, abduction
Introducing an extraordinary and original writer whose first novel explores the intersections of grief and rage, personal strength and healing–and what we owe one another.
Fern seeks refuge from her mother’s pill-popping and boyfriends via Soul Train; Gwen finds salvation in the music of Prince much to her congregation’s dismay and Jesenia, miles ahead of her classmates at her gifted and talented high school, is a brainy and precocious enigma. None of this matters to Boss Man, the monster who abducts them and holds them captive in a dilapidated house in Queens.
On the night they are finally rescued, throngs line the block gawking and claiming ignorance. Among them is lifetime resident Miss Metropolitan, advice columnist for the local weekly, but how could anyone who fancies herself a “newspaperwoman” have missed a horror story unfolding right across the street? And why is it that only two of the three girls—now women—were found? The mystery haunts the two remaining “victim girls” who are subjected to the further trauma of becoming symbols as they continuously adapt to their present and their unrelenting past.
Like Emma Donoghue’s Room, Ferrell’s Dear Miss Metropolitan gives voice to characters surviving unimaginable tragedy. The story is inventively revealed before, during, and after the ordeal in this singular and urgent novel.