Fourteen: A Daughter’s Memoir of Adventure, Sailing, and Survival, Leslie Johansen Nack

What a fabulous story of exploration, survival and coming of age. The story attracted me from the first blurb I read on it. What I found between the pages was so much more. A 14 year old girl living on a boat for 2 years an ideal living in my opinion. I knew girls like this when I was young, I grew up just down the road from her. We are the same age, I sailed locally but wanted more. I wanted to be her, wanted to sail away with my dream family to a tropical island where everything was warm, beautiful and happy. I would have envied her for having it all. But, her exterior image was so far from her truth. Leslie, young, blond and pretty was living the nightmare of an overbearing abusive father and had fight for her life. Leslie, the Californian golden child had a father a mother and two sisters. She was the middle child, of a Norwegian man who controlled and abused to the extreme. Her mother was unstable and distant. The marriage falling apart, the girls stuck in the middle. Her father sexually abusing her and forcing her to do things that embarrassed her. When he sells everything and buys a boat to sail on she worries about who will buffer her fathers attentions. Oh it is heart wrenching the torture he puts her through. She struggles with wanting her fathers love and hating his “love”. She trudges through her days trying to win her rights over her own body and her nights afraid.

Sailing can be a dangerous sport and when the sicknesses, storms and other dangers come they have to survive. Luckily for the girls their dad did teach them what they needed in sailing as they are forced to take control. The sailing traumas they overcame are amazing. This memoir was so brutally honest and direct in her feelings. She never wavered from the horrible and beautiful events of her developing self. She built herself out of hard corals and strong currents . She never missed the beauty in her surroundings the moments of kindness. She is still somebody I would have like to been like but for a different reason.
*This was such a heartbreaker. I was home sick, sick for her, sick of him, sick for all the things I didn’t do when I was young. The choices I made did not have me sailing across the ocean, and that saddens me. I made a Dutch apple pie to drown my sorrows in, and I burnt it. Dark charged sorrows for me YIPEEEE. I am not including a picture thank you very much. I have not burned a pie in, ever.

This book brought so many memories back from the place I packed them away. The abuse I suffered from a family member I loved and trusted. My sailing time, and love of water. My freedom of that period in time. My lack of a father figure in my life and how much I really wanted one. It also showed my even more that my mother is a rock star !

I really have been depressed lately with homesickness. I’m in Texas now after leaving my home in So. Ca. My mother still lives there, and I hope to someday be able to move back (I think) and visit some of the memories that awoke while reading this story. It is hard relocating, leaving the life you knew behind, and harder when you loved your life.


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