A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

“My husband is not the first man to disappoint me,” claims Evie Austin, the narrator and namesake of The Baddest Girl on the Planet. In this debut novel by Raleigh

Madison County Championship Rodeo

“My husband is not the first man to disappoint me,” claims Evie Austin, the narrator and namesake of The Baddest Girl on the Planet. In this debut novel by Raleigh

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

“My husband is not the first man to disappoint me,” claims Evie Austin, the narrator and namesake of The Baddest Girl on the Planet. In this debut novel by Raleigh

“My husband is not the first man to disappoint me,” claims Evie Austin, the narrator and namesake of The Baddest Girl on the Planet. In this debut novel by Raleigh author Heather Frese, Evie, a Hatteras girl grown up and stuck in her quiet hometown, realizes that she’s had enough of what life has thrown at her: an unplanned son; an affair with her boss; and a foundering sense of what to do with herself on a small island where everyone knows everyone else’s business.

Evie first meets her best friend, Charlotte, at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, where Evie has been living in a camper with her aunt and brother. Charlotte and Evie’s differences bring them together. Charlotte’s parents are Midwestern academics who sit around the campfire, talking about the ever-expanding universe, while Evie’s fractured family is in a tighter spot — her mother has recently run off to New York with another man.

Out there on the edge of existence, where a person can feel downright shipwrecked, the ever-present Atlantic buffets Evie’s days. The crashing waves mark the time as she confronts obstacles that are at once familiar and unnerving, especially as Frese finely draws them — postpartum depression, deep loss, and the struggle to grow and change in a place that prefers you to stay just as you are. Smart, vulnerable, and not nearly as bad as she thinks she is, Evie must make the choice that so many of us reckon with: to stay or to go. The answer, she finds, is as brave, tender, and complex as she is.

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This story was published on Jul 26, 2021

Cate Doty

Cate Doty is a journalist in Raleigh. She’s writing a book about her tenure as a weddings writer for The New York Times.