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Set along the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the 1800's and the 1970s, the novel follows Theodosia Burr, daughter of Aaron Burr, who by many accounts was captured by pirates and lived out the rest of her life on a remote island. Parker constructs a story of what that life might have been, the unlikely man who Theodosia fell in love with, and then, hundreds of years later, her island descendants--as well as the stories of the black family who was tethered to all of them for hundreds of years. Following these many stories over two centuries, The Watery Part of the World asks whether we can ever change our paths or whether we are destined to be defined by our history.