Book Review: Fourteen

fourteenFour starsThis coming-of-age tale of three years in the life of Leslie Johansen, from age 12 to 15, centers on her father’s planned around-the-world sailing adventure with Leslie and her two sisters, one older and one younger, as his crew.  Leslie’s father had sole custody of the three girls after the parents divorced when Leslie was seven. His changeable moods challenged all three girls, but as his favorite, a label that Leslie alternately was proud and ashamed of, the brunt of his attention fell on her.

Father and daughters spent two years to ready the 45-foot sailboat, Aegir, with Dad training the three girls to handle the boat in all types of situations. In 1975, they set sail from Oceanside, California, heading for Tahiti.

Leslie Nack courageously shares with her readers her teen fears, dreams, and discouragements both before the family set off on their trip and during the days and nights they were confined to the 45-feet length of the ship. Her descriptions of the ocean’s many facets made me feel as though I were on the ship with her through the rain, storms, and even the doldrums. She provided just enough sailing terminology to ensure I respected her experience without confusing me – a non-sailor – so I could enjoy, or fear, the experience with her. Even her conflicting and alternating feelings of love and fear of her father resonated with my memory of my 14-year-old self. A real page-turner from beginning to end.

Leslie will be one of three debut memoir writers on a panel at the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild on Monday, March 28, 2016, at 6:30 p.m.

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