Her sister Nina disappeared two years ago, but Ellie is sure she can find her, if she can just get the right clues.

It was totally crazy, and yet at the same time, totally sane and the most right thing to do. Finally, after two years, I was going to look for my sister Nina.

Two years ago, on June 24, 18 year old Nina Melissa Wrigley disappeared. It wasn’t like she had planned a trip, talked about it, packed, and then left. She was just…gone. Everything in her room was the same—she just wasn’t in it.

She used to sneak out all the time—our mother worked nights in the neonatal ICU and couldn’t stop her—but she always, always, always got back got back by morning. But on June 24, she didn’t. Our mother didn’t even seem to notice—she just said, “She’s not missing. She’s just not here.” I did everything I could—called all her friends, put up osters, and even called the police. Nina was still gone.

Now it’s two years later, and I am certain she’s still alive, and that I could find her, if only I knew where to look.

And then, out of the blue, it happened—a clue, a sketch of me she’d drawn hundreds of times, and a phone number. Those clues led me to a flyer about a party at the Mothership. Maybe someone at the party would know where Nina was, or where she had been. No one did, but that night I met Sean. We talked for about a minute, that’s all. But the next day he showed up at the coffee bar where I work, and offered me a ride home. Somehow on that ride, I ended up telling him all about Nina, and he helped me find the next clue—two charges on a credit card, one to a sporting goods store about three weeks before she left, and one to Sweetie’s Diner, somewhere in Nebraska. “What was she doing in Nebraska?” I asked. “I don’t know,” responded Sean, “Why don’t we go and find out?”

I’ve known this guy for just a couple of hours, so taking off on a road trip with him is totally crazy, like I said. But he really seems like he wants to help me, and besides, it feels like I’ve known him forever, and I trust him. So I nod, okay, and an hour and a half later, we’re on the road, heading for Sweetie’s.

That was the beginning of the most wonderful and strangest road trip of my life, as we hopscotched across the country, following every clue we found, following Nina.

This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.