Early one morning, on the beach beside her North Carolina home, eleven-year-old Daria Cato receives an unbelievable gift from the sea-an 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 woman whom Daria continues to protect. But when Rory Taylor, a friend from Daria's past and now a television producer, returns to do a story on the mystery of Shelly's birth, something precarious shifts in the small village of Kill Devil Hills.
The more questions Rory asks, the more unsettled the tiny community becomes, as dark sins and closely guarded secrets begin to surface. Piece by piece, the mystery of summer's child is being exposed, a mystery that no one involved is prepared to solve.