Audiobook review: Dear Miss Metropolitan by Carolyn Ferrell

Such a difficult story, brilliantly told, and a really well done audiobook. The complex style and dark subject matter make this a book people will either love or hate—I’m firmly in the love column.

What it’s about

From the Goodreads description:

Fern seeks refuge from her mother’s pill-popping and boyfriends via Soul Train; Gwin 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.

My thoughts

In her debut novel, Carolyn Ferrell has tackled the experiences and thoughts of three girls before, during, and after their horrific abduction and years-long torture at the hands of a monster of a man. Loosely based on the Cleveland Castro kidnappings, Dear Miss Metropolitan is the story of the girls, not their captor, and the psychological and physical trauma they endure. The story jumps around quite a bit from the girls’ lives before they were taken to their confused and fractured time in captivity and on to the future years after they escape. The book also switches POVs and writing styles frequently and comes at the story from several angles. It’s complex, obviously difficult and upsetting to read, but so very well written.

I really enjoyed getting to know each of the ‘victim girls’ and the lives they had before they were taken and forced together. Fern, Gwin, and Jesenia are each well-drawn, believable characters, which makes it all the more harrowing to read about the abuse they suffer together. Not a lot of time is spent on the character of the Boss Man, and that’s just fine with me, but we get interesting perspectives from neighbors who never knew what was happening in the house next door as well as from the people who try to help the girls when they are freed. The events of the story are brutal and terribly sad, but I appreciate the way that Ferrell took me in to the story and made me feel for her characters and their struggles.

I was fortunate to receive a copy of thjs audiobook on NetGalley. Dear Miss Metropolitan is wonderfully narrated by the always-brilliant Bahni Turpin, who skillfully guided me through the painful subject matter and somewhat complicated writing style to a wholly enjoyable listening experience. I highly recommend this audiobook.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to listen in exchange for this honest review.


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