Buy Now

Barnes & Noble

Book Awards:

  • Winner of the 2016 National Indie Excellence Awards (NIEA) for YA Non-Fiction;
  • 2016 Finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Memoir (Overcoming Advertsity/Tragedy/Challenges);
  • Winner of the 2016 Bronze Readers’ Favorites in Non-Fiction;
  • Winner of the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Awards in Memoir; and
  • Winner of the 2017 Independent Press Award for Memoir

Leslie’s memoir starts in a broken home in the 1970s and moves into a coming-of-age adventure when, at the age of 14, she and her two sisters have to batten down the hatches on their 45-foot sailboat to navigate the Pacific Ocean, as well as the stormy temper of their larger-than-life Norwegian father.

It is the story of how a young girl comes into her own power and strength against all odds in a dysfunctional family having the adventure of a lifetime. Young Leslie embraces the sailing experience and turns it into a growth and maturation process, finding both beauty and spiritual solace in the natural world.

After her mother and father divorce at age seven, and full custody is given to her father, Leslie quickly learns the hard lessons of being Dad’s favorite. The abuse begins at age nine and doesn’t end until she begins to fight back at fourteen.

At twelve, the family moved from their 63-acre rustic ranch in Northern California to a 45-foot sailboat in Southern California where they spent two-and-a-half years living aboard their boat preparing for the trip of their father’s dream.

On February 5, 1975, they left everybody they knew, including their mother and began the journey, landing first in French Polynesia. Fourteen is the first of two books in a story of courage and hope, and of one girl’s fight against an overbearing, abusive and sometimes irrational father who demanded the best, while sometimes doing less than the best himself. You will be inspired by Leslie’s courage and fight and be amazed at all she encounters and overcomes.



Leslie Johansen Nack has written a book that is part sailing adventure, part coming-of-age story, and part memoir of surviving the kind of family we call “dysfunctional,” a word which doesn’t nearly capture the pain and confusion living in such a family causes. Her particular challenge: negotiating life with a father who is both hero and abuser, teacher and bully. But Leslie is more than a survivor: she is a brave and strong and spirited young girl you’ll cheer for throughout this gripping memoir. Nack has rendered that life and those years in beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking language and scenes so alive you’ll feel as if you’re living the experience right along with her.
Judy Reeves, author of Wild Women, Wild Voices — Writing from Your Authentic Wildness
Fourteen invites you on a rollicking survival story that is dangerous in many ways. We follow Leslie as she navigates the rough waters of family as well as the Pacific Ocean. She discovers her own strength, physical and emotional, and manages the family dynamics, storms, different cultures, and the ocean itself. I heartily recommend this wonderful page turner!
Linda Joy Myers, president of the National Association of Memoir Writers, author of the Indie Book Award finalist Don't Call Me Mother
Fourteen is the riveting story of a girl and her sisters coming of age and struggling to survive staggering odds as her father pursues his dream of sailing his own boat to Tahiti. This book totally captures the intrigue and romance of arriving under sail in the South Pacific during the mid-70’s.
John Neal, author of Log of the Mahina, Offshore Cruising Companion and offshore sail-training expedition leader/instructor
Fourteen is the poignant and gripping coming-of-age story of Leslie Johansen Nack, a smart, strong girl who sails to Tahiti with her two sisters and predatory father in 1975. With him as captain of their 45’ boat, Nack’s life depends upon him…until he falls ill. The skills and confidence Nack gains from sailing, combined with her indomitable will, help Nack fight back against her father’s abuse—and might even help her save his life. In candid, clear, even-handed prose, Leslie Johansen Nack’s Fourteen is an important book, one that takes us on a lush journey to distant lands and through the complexities and resilience of the human spirit.
Janna Cawrse Esarey, author of The Motion of the Ocean



Tab content