One of the things that makes Cash Blackbear such a great literary character is the way in which she is not only fully realized but that she is a relatively isolated. Readers are invited in to be a part of a life that (in direct contrast to how so many lives these days are lived splattered and public all over social media) is quiet, seemingly simple, and very, very private. We get to experience her full interiority in ways that even those around her do not.
Whilst reading the first Cash Blackbear book (Murder on the Red River), I ordered Girl Gone Missing, the second one. I knew that I would be disappointed if I couldn’t almost immediately find out what Cash was up to after I finished the first one. I was not wrong. And while each book would be fine as a stand alone, I highly recommend reading both in order.
In Girl Gone Missing, we find Cash in her first year of college. A girl from her town has gone missing and Cash soon learns of the disappearance of a second girl from the same region. Cash, of course, ends up trying to help Sheriff Wheaton locate this girls. (Spoiler alert: she ends up pretty much on her own tracking down the girls, although Wheaton does offer a soft landing pad.
Cash’s brother shows up unexpectedly and while his reappearance is obviously painful for Cash as it stirs up the most painful memories and feelings of abandonment from her childhood. As she works through some of this, however, she and her brother end up taking care of each other. We even see Cash laugh a few times, which are welcome moments which involve her brother, who struggles as much if not more than Cash as he recovers from both a difficult childhood and time served in the Vietnam War. Especially after the ways in which so many people failed Cash, it has been life-affirming to watch Cash begin to allow herself to form meaningful relationships.
During a book club meeting to discuss the book There, There by Tommy Orange, other Native American authors came up. I mentioned Marcie Rendon in part because it could probably be called a “mystery.” In other words, I enjoy books written by under-represented groups in which the struggles and conflict all center around the characters being members of said underrepresented groups. In this case, Girl Gone Missing is a mystery and while Cash’s identity are important to both solving the mystery and to her survival, she’s also a great person with whom to spend a whole book.
Girl Gone Missing is a fast-paced (in spite of the seeming slow pace of Cash’s life) mystery with a strong woman central character. I highly recommend, especially as a summer (but really any time of the year) read. Enjoy.