Cash Blackbear is back in the second book in Marcie Rendon’s series, Girl Gone Missing. It’s not necessary to read the first in the series, Murder on the Red River, but you will want to. Rendon sprinkles enough of Cash’s backstory throughout the second book so that you’ll never be lost.
In Girl Gone Missing, the intrepid Cash Blackbear is enrolled at Moorhead State University with the encouragement of her friend and father figure, Sheriff Wheaton. Cash isn’t comfortable with bureaucracy but navigates enrolling and applying for funding with her usual fierce determination. Cash is tough and has learned through a life in abusive white foster homes how to take care of herself. It helps that Wheaton looks out for her as well — insisting that she get a telephone (he pays for it) so that he can check in on her more easily. Cash is smart. She tests out of her entry level English and Science classes and is nominated for an award for her English essay. The awards will be held in the Twin Cities. Cash grew up in the Red River Valley and can hardly fathom the reality of the Twin Cities. Before she leaves for the awards ceremony, she hears about two missing girls — one a student at Moorhead who was in one of her classes and the other a high school student whom she hasn’t met — both blond-haired blue-eyed girls who have led privileged lives; girls not likely to be runaways.
Cash often has dreams that reveal the past or future. She often shares information with Sheriff Wheaton about her dreams and the information has helped solve a crime. In the second book, Cash dreams of a blond-haired girl who screams, “Help me.” She tells Wheaton about the missing girls and he goes to work investigating their disappearance. In the meantime, Cash leaves for the Twin Cities and the award ceremony.
An interesting twist in the second book, is the appearance of Cash’s long-lost brother, Mo. Cash was separated from her siblings when she was three years old and her mother rolled her car with Cash, Mo, and her sister in it; she hasn’t seen any of them since. Mo is a Vietnam vet and shows up at her apartment. He fixes her breakfast and makes sure there is food and beer in the fridge. Cash isn’t used to having someone take care of her — Wheaton is the closest she’s come — and she finds it all a little uncomfortable.
Girl Gone Missing is a satisfying follow up to the Cash Blackbear original story. Cash is slowly evolving — she still drives beet truck at night to pay her bills and still drinks and smokes too much — but she’s enrolled in college and she’s smart. Even if Cash can’t see it, we can see her future from here . . . and it’s looking up. But first, she’ll have to get herself and the missing girls out of a pretty rough spot.
Be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end of the Cash Blackbear novels. Marcie Rendon fills in the historical backstory — The Indian Adoption Project created by the Bureau of Indian Affairs existed from 1941 to 1967 and allowed adoption agencies to systematically remove Native children form their birth parents. Eighty-five percent of them were adopted by white families where they were often used as slave labor — because adoption records were sealed, many lost their tribal identities. “It was one more way to disappear Native people from the national consciousness,” Rendon writes. For this reason and many others, it is important to read Native stories by Native authors. For far too long, these stories have been appropriated by writers of privilege, effectively stealing stories and opportunities for publication from Native writers.
At the end of Girl Gone Missing, the author gives us a glimpse of the third book. Cash Blackbear stands in a cemetery before the freshly dug grave of a small child, a second child’s grave adjacent to it — the children, siblings, born two years apart. A cloud of cold air swirls around Cash’s face — and we, dear reader, know what that means — trouble is afoot and Cash has just landed in the middle of it.
Listen to my interview on Superior Reads with author Marcie Rendon on WTIP 90.7 Grand Marais on January 23 at 7:00 pm and listen to all my reviews and interviews on http://www.wtip.org and on Superior Reads at http://www.superiorreads.blog.