A birding conference brings Abby back to Cornell University in upstate New York, where she reminisces with old friends and rediscovers all that she gave up to move home to Sparrow Island. Will she, as her colleagues hope, be tempted to return? Meanwhile, a student disappears, and Abby starts out on a search that leads to a cryptic note, a mysterious stranger and a prodigal son. Back on Sparrow Island, Mary is thrust into the role of caregiver when George Stanton lands in the hospital. His recovery stirs up some long-buried memories that concern them all. With Abby so far away during this difficult time, can the family pull together and stay close? Or will they be torn apart by echoes of the past?