Seventeen-year-old Cardinal has escaped the virus that ravaged his town, leaving its victims alive but without their memories. He chooses to remain in the quarantined zone, caring for a group of orphaned kids in a mountain camp with the help of the former brutal school bully, now transformed by the virus into his best friend. But then a strong-willed and mysterious young woman appears, and the closed-off world Cardinal has created begins to crumble.
A thrilling, fast-paced work of speculative fiction for teens, from a bestselling author, Black River Falls is an unforgettable story about survival, identity, and family.
In this fast-paced novel, Hirsch (The Darkest Path) has created a terrifying reality that explores identity, memory, morality, and what it means to be a family. When a flu-like virus hits Black River Falls, causing those infected to lose their memories, families are separated and children must fend for themselves. Cardinal Cassidy, 17, is one of the few who miraculously manage to evade the virus. He and bully-turned-best-friend Greer take care of a group of orphans high up in a mountain camp, away from potential predators in the town below. As Card carefully navigates this new world, watching those around him reinvent themselves, he feels increasingly trapped by memories of what happened to his family when the virus hit. These memories, coupled with the stresses of the National Guard leaving to make way for management of the town by a private corporation, cause Card to make a series of rash decisions with potentially disastrous effects. Through strong characters and thoughtful plotting, Hirsch shows that memory helps define who we are but isn't the sole component of what makes us human. Ages 12 up.