Dear Miss Metropolitan

Holt. Jul. 2021. 432p. Tr $27.99. ISBN 9781250793614.
Gr 10 Up–A challenging work that gives voice and humanity to often-underestimated “victim girls.” Fern, Gwen, and Jesenia are kidnapped in the late 1990s by Boss Man. Ten years later, two of the girls are freed, along with a toddler, but there’s no sign of the third. The narrative is teased out in a circular manner as readers learn who these girls were before their captivity, what happened to them in that decade of torture, and what their lives look like after being found. The three girls develop a tight, complex sisterhood during their time together, which lends mystery to Jesenia’s absence. The book unfolds initially among the girls’ various points of view, then expands to the perspectives of other people affected by their discovery. The narrative moves all the way to 2039, where readers see how the life of Jesenia’s daughter has developed, as well as the later adulthood of Fern and Gwen. This is an unconventional, at times challenging narrative in its frank discussion of assault and trauma as well as how deeply Ferrell embodies the voices of her characters. The ultimate effect is an elegant, fragmented series of memories and snippets that assemble together as a startlingly original whole. The lyrical writing style may challenge younger teens used to more conventional narratives. Fern and Gwen are Black and Jesenia is Latinx.
VERDICT The realism and true crime element, along with its deep understanding of Black girlhood, are likely to appeal to many older teen readers and fans of Emma Donoghue’s Room and Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones.

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