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In 2008, the BOSS MAN kidnapped three Black girls and spent the next ten years raping, torturing, aborting, and brainwashing them. Though two of them (and the infant daughter of the third) eventually break free, the trauma of captivity winds its way into their pasts and futures, coloring all of the smaller traumas of their childhoods with abusive or controlling parents and the blossoming possibilities in their future relationships with siblings, counselors, and friends. And as they sort through their memories and emotions to find the truth of what they experienced and who they are, the two survivors are always searching for the truth of what happened to Jesenia, the one who always gave them hope but who didn’t walk out of the house with them on the day of their freedom.
This novel is heavy, both in its subject matter and its experimental literary style. The poetic vignettes, often stream-of-consciousness, appear out of chronological order which creates a unique atmosphere. On the one hand, the jumbled puzzle pieces of the story and the constant effort of picking apart poetry and fantasy from reality prevented me from being fully immersed in the story. On the other hand, the disjointed confusion was an immersion of its own, a sharing in the main characters’ experience of their trauma, unsure of what happened when, what was real and what was imaginary. And the use of fantastical imagery for rape and torture somehow made those moments more graphic and disturbing than a more grounded account would have. Though a thread of mystery runs throughout the novel, this story is neither a mystery nor a thriller. It is a poetic exploration of trauma that will not be for everyone. But for readers who are looking for something to sink into, a story that will challenge them mentally and emotionally and stay with them long after they put the book down, I would recommend DEAR MISS METROPOLITAN.