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About The Book

Set on a beautiful island off the coast of Maine, this deeply moving and powerful novel by New York Times bestselling author and "first-rate storyteller" (The Boston Globe) is about three people who survive a boating accident, exploring not only how each person deals with his or her own twist of fate, but also the effect each survivor has on the other.


This is the question that haunts Julia Bechtel, Noah Prine, and Kim Colella, the only survivors of a terrible boating accident off the coast of Maine that claimed the lives of nine other people.

Julia, a forty-year-old wife and mother, has always taken the path of least resistance. Pigeonholed by her controlling family and increasingly distant husband as "loyal" and "obedient," she realizes in the aftermath of her brush with death that there is more to her -- and to the world around her -- than she ever imagined.

Feeling strangely connected to Noah, the divorced, brooding lobsterman who helped save her life, and to Kim, a twenty-one-year-old whose role in the accident and subsequent muteness are a mystery, Julia begins to explore the unique possibilities offered by the quiet island of Big Sawyer, Maine. Suddenly, things that once seemed critical lose significance, and things that seemed inconsequential take on a whole new importance. With each passing moment, each new discovery, Julia grows more sure that after coming face-to-face with death, she must have more from life.

Resolving to make things right for the future and drawing on an inner strength she never knew she possessed, Julia passionately awakens to a new world, fearlessly embracing uncertainties in a way she couldn't have imagined only a few weeks ago.

Set off the coast of Maine, where lobstermen leave with the tides each morning to haul and reset their traps, and neighbors gather each night to feast on the catch of the day, Barbara Delinsky's The Summer I Dared is a deeply moving story of the risky but rewarding search for self, a story of survival, and of the irrepressible ability of the human spirit to rebound from disaster and to create life anew.

Reading Group Guide

Discussion questions for The Summer I Dared
• In The Summer I Dared, three people emerge physically unscathed from an accident that takes the lives of nine others. In what ways do the reactions of these three people differ? Discuss the emotions involved. How do those emotions differ and why?
• What is the central theme of this book? How does the book weigh in on the issue of marital infidelity?
• Why did Julia put up with Monte? Was she right in staying with him? Was she right in rethinking her marriage after the accident?
• Consider Janet's early betrayal by George. How did this impact Julia? Is family history destined to repeat itself?
• Does the excitement of marriage inevitably fade over time? Might Julia have done anything different to avoid it? Discuss some of the major challenges to a marriage and possible ways to cope.
• Was Julia right in allowing herself to befriend Noah? How has the concept of heterosexual friendship changed from Julia's generation to her daughter Molly's generation?
• In what ways is Zoe a role model for Julia? Has Julia's mother, Janet, also been a role model for her? Who is the role model for Julia's daughter, Molly? Discuss the impact of role models in our lives.
The Summer I Dared tells of Julia's search for self. Outline this search.
• What is the message in Julia's connection with the Walsh girls? Does this connection play a role in the choices she makes?
• Noah is a not big talker. Was it lack of communication that destroyed his marriage? During the courase of the story, does his skill at this change?
• Is violence justified in a lobster war? Should we think less of Noah for his part in that war?
• Discuss the lessons we teach our children by example. Consider Noah's involving Ian in the lobster war. Consider Julia's involvement with Noah while still being married to Monte. How do these things impact the children involved?

About The Author

Jerry Bauer

Barbara Delinsky has written more than twenty New York Times bestselling novels, with over thirty million copies in print. Her books are highly emotional, character-driven studies of marriage, parenthood, sibling rivalry, and friendship. She is also the author of a breast cancer handbook. A breast cancer survivor herself, Barbara donates her author proceeds from the handbook to fund a research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital. Visit her at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (May 4, 2004)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743258678

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