Veronica "Ronnie" Miller is seventeen years old, has a ten year old brother named Jonah, and a terrible relationship with both of her parents (who have recently divorced). She lives with her mom and Jonah in New York City, however her parents feel as though it will be best for her and Jonah to spend the summer in North Carolina with their father. Steve Miller had been a professor at Juilliard and had influenced his daughters love of piano from a young age. Since his departure from New York and his family, Ronnie's resentment towards him has kept her from playing the piano and attending Juilliard in the fall.
After arriving in North Carolina Steve shows Jonah the stained-glass window he is building for the church that burned down, while Ronnie wanders off to explore her home for the summer. As she is walking on the beach, she collides with a volleyball player who spills her shake all over her shirt. He apologizes and Ronnie seems less than impressed. Ronnie heads to the pier to purchase a new shirt when she meets a girl named Blaze who suggests stealing the shirt. Ronnie confesses that she is already on probation from stealing back in New York and can not get caught again. Blaze introduces Ronnie to her boyfriend Marcus and his friends. Marcus and his friends put on a fire juggling show to earn some money. After the show Marcus comes on to Ronnie. Blaze sees this and becomes very jealous and eventually frames Ronnie for shoplifting.
Steve believes Ronnie when she says she didn't steal anything, and this is where their relationship begins to grow. Steve then shows his kids the sea turtle nest that is on the beach in front of his house. Ronnie calls the aquarium so they can protect the eggs from predators. Will arrives at her house a couple of days later and Ronnie is surprised to learn that he volunteers at the aquarium. The two begin to bond and eventually fall in love. It is then revealed that Scott, Will's best friend, was responsible for the fire at the church, not Steve. Ronnie and Will continue to spend time together, but the end of the summer is getting closer, which brings with it Will's departure to Vanderbilt and Ronnie's trial.
Scott and Will are taking part in a volleyball tournament and Marcus sees this large crowd as an opportunity to make money. During one of the fire shows, Blaze misses a catch and catches herself on fire. Marcus takes off running, but Will and Ronnie get Blaze to the hospital. Will decides to seek revenge for Blaze and attacks Marcus, but Ronnie stops him by reminding him that Marcus isn't even worth it. Scott confronts Will about ditching him at the tournament and Will walks away after telling him that he needs to tell the truth about the fire.
On the night that the sea turtles begin to hatch, Steve lapses into a coughing fit and coughs up blood. It is at the hospital that Ronnie and Jonah are informed that their father has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. Will also reveals what actually happened that night at the church. Steve suggests keeping it between them, but Ronnie becomes furious and breaks up with Will. Blaze confesses to framing Ronnie, but is not charged with anything because she reveals that Marcus was actually the one who started the fire that night at the church, not Scott.
As the summer comes to a close the window is finished and installed into the church. Steve becomes too weak to finish his final composition and Ronnie begins to play again, determined to finish his piece for him. Steve passes and Ronnie moves back to New York and auditions for Juilliard. Will visits her in New York with news of his transfer to Columbia. He admits that he hasn't been able to stop thinking about her and the two reconcile.
1) When Ronnie arrives in North Carolina she has her father put up a temporary wall so she doesn't even have to look at his piano. Do you think that Ronnie has any right to do this?
2) Some people prefer to remember someone as they were, instead of who they were when they passed away, but Ronnie decides to stay with her ailing father through his illness. Do you think this was a wise decision?