Early on the morning of her eleventh birthday, on the beach beside her North Carolina home, Daria Cato receives an unbelievable gift from the seaan abandoned newborn baby. When the infant's identity cannot be uncovered, she is adopted by Daria's loving family. But her silent secrets continue to haunt Daria.
Now, twenty years later, Shelly has grown into an unusual, ethereal young woman whom Daria continues to protect. But when Rory Taylor, a friend from Daria's childhood and now a television producer, returns at Shelly's request to do a story about the circumstances surrounding her birth, something precarious shifts in the small town of Kill Devil Hills.
The more questions Rory asks, the more unsettled the tiny community becomes, as closely guarded secrets and the sins of that long-ago summer begin to surface. Piece by piece, the mystery of summer's child is being exposed, a mystery that no one involvednot Shelly, Daria, not even Roryis prepared to face.