Scribner, May 2004, 24.95, 368 pp.
For years her identity was defined as Janet's daughter, Molly's mother, or Monte's wife. She accommodated the needs of everyone else at the cost of her own. With her daughter out of the house, Julia Bechtel decides to escape from her spouse so she can ponder what she wants to do with her unfulfilling marriage. Julia takes the ferry to visit her Aunt Zoe on Big Sawyer Island off the Maine coast. However, another vessel runs into the ferry causing both boats to explode.
Julia, lobsterman Noah Prince, and islander Kim Colette are the only survivors. Julia realizes that for some unknown heavenly reason she has been provided with a chance to live life on her terms. Every day is a miraculous gift as she now knows she can never return to her unsatisfying life in New York unless substantial changes occur. Comfort comes in Noah's arms, but Julia wonders if she has the courage to seek love with him because that would disappoint her daughter and her parents whose opinions she values.
Every venture that Barbara Delinsky takes her fans on is unique as the author never writes the same book twice. THE SUMMER I DARED is a beautiful love story as much as a character study of an individual finding courage with her second chance at life. The eccentric secondary cast, especially the barrier island crowd, keeps the tale from turning too inwardly maudlin while also enabling the audience to see the inner struggles of the heroine. Noah has his own problems with a neglected teenage son.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner