Dear Miss Metropolitan tells the fragmented story of Fern, Gwinnie and Jesenia, three girls abducted by a monster who calls himself Boss Man and held captive in a decaying house in Queens for a decade. Inspired by real events, the tale is inventively revealed by multiple narrators before, during and after their ordeal.
... stunning and innovative ... The ripped-from-the-headlines premise might seem sensational, but Dear Miss Metropolitan is not horror or thriller, but a literary novel, experimental in style, that asks readers to immerse themselves in the psyches of the deeply traumatized. This is an artful text: an intricate mosaic of shifting viewpoints, black-and-white photographs and fragmented, unreliable narration. The novel is not easy, but how could it be? ... Humming with specificity, Dear Miss Metropolitan rejects easy caricatures of suffering ... Ferrell resists clichés, allowing the girls’ inner lives to diverge ... The premise of Dear Miss Metropolitan is reminiscent of Emma Donoghue’s Room, though Ferrell’s novel feels more expansive in scope and richer in its exploration of trauma. Ferrell writes with no illusions that this kind of violence can be contained; neither causation nor blame is neatly assigned ... Through all this darkness, Ferrell writes with a steady, empathetic hand. She leaves space for tenderness ... Yes, Dear Miss Metropolitan is devastating, but it shouldn’t be summed up as such. This is a blistering contribution to the cohort of contemporary literature focused on sexual violence. It is a novel that reads like a labyrinth, as complex as the trauma it depicts.
Our culture does not lack for tales of girls in captivity ... I can guarantee, though, that you’ve never read a book quite like Carolyn Ferrell’s first novel ... Ferrell is a seasoned writer ... Her immense talents are on full display in Dear Miss Metropolitan, a challenging, unwieldy novel built from hundreds of lyrical fragments, woven together with music, poetry, fairy tales and photography ... Ferrell offers an expansive portrait of trauma, examining its persistent, timeless, all-consuming nature ... parts vary greatly in voice and structure, but they collide and pile up into a memorable, if sometimes befuddling, whole ... Not every mansion Ferrell visits yields secret troves of treasure, but she ensures they are all worth exploring.
... a difficult novel to read. The subject matter is about as grim as grim gets ... is difficult to read, too, because of its structure. Ferrell mixes bits of narrative, collage-style, with snippets of news stories, with letters and lists and spells and incantations and social service assessments and the answers to tests and questionnaires. There are atmospheric photographs. The effect is to keep the book’s action slightly remote, at a distance ... No real narrative force is permitted to develop in Ferrell’s novel, either. It’s an endurance test. I admired it while longing for it to end ... Ferrell’s title, Dear Miss Metropolitan, summons to mind the dark comedy of Nathanael West’s 1933 advice-column novel, Miss Lonelyhearts. It’s a misleading title for this book ... The author is a vivid maker of sentences with a flair for casual surrealisms ... There are few scenes of applied, extended torment in Dear Miss Metropolitan. But the dry facts, unbearable in every detail, are more than enough. Over the course of the novel, they make something in your soul break down ... It becomes clear, and not for the first time, that Ferrell is navigating American trauma writ large, as well as her characters’ own. Some nightmares, and subsidiary nightmares, aren’t easily outrun.