cover image Dear Miss Metropolitan

Dear Miss Metropolitan

Carolyn Ferrell. Holt, $27.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-250-79361-4

Ferrell’s innovative and harrowing debut novel (after the collection Don’t Erase Me) draws on the Ariel Castro kidnappings in Cleveland for a story about the abduction and captivity of three young women in Queens, N.Y., and their subsequent escape in 2007. Prior to their abductions in the late 1990s, each of the “victim-girls” finds coping mechanisms to survive their difficult situations. Fern, 13, distracts herself from her mother’s drug abuse and lecherous boyfriends with Soul Train VHS tapes; Gwin, 15, skirts her mother’s increasingly radical Jehovah’s Witnesses ideas by grooving to Prince; and the quick-witted Jesenia, nearly 17, leaves Queens with her doting but violent boyfriend. The three are chained in a decrepit house and tortured by their sadistic captor, known only as “Boss Man,” for close to 10 years. When they are finally discovered and freed, the surrounding community members, including Mathilda Marron, a newspaper advice columnist known as “Miss Metropolitan” who has lived next door to the house the girls were held in for four decades, grapple with guilt over not discovering them sooner. Composed of an assemblage of fragments, photos, articles by Mathilda, and first-person narration from the victims, this effectively unpacks both individual and collective trauma. It’s blistering from page one. Agent: Lisa Bankoff, Bankoff Collaborative. (July)