December 13, 2015
Just Finished: Fourteen by Leslie Johansen Nack
Wow, what an incredible memoir, the story of fourteen year old Leslie Johansen as she navigates both a cross-sea sailboat journey and her confusing, turbulent relationship with her abusive captain father.
In 1975, Leslie’s mother is largely absent from her family due to chronic, debilitating mental illness. Leslie’s father, Bjorn, is determined to set sail for the world with Leslie and her two sisters aboard their 45 foot sailboat, Aegir (Norwegian for “lord of the stormy seas”). Although Leslie shares her father’s love of the ocean, she is terrified by the thought of being trapped at sea with him where she will be helpless to escape his verbal and emotional cruelty and the constant threat of his sexual advances. *Spoiler* Indeed, though there is mention of past sexual abuse, it is blurred the way it often is for survivors, and Bjorn does not, in fact, attempt further assault during the trip. But the cat and mouse game of the threat alone is nearly as horrifying, and Leslie’s likability, strength, and fortitude as she learns to fight back against the man who is both her hero and her tormentor–not to mention become an accomplished sailor–are awe-inspiring.
Fourteen is a sensitive, tender age for most ordinary teenagers. Leslie’s story, from San Diego to Tahiti, is extraordinary, a beautifully written journey through a complex father-daughter relationship and daunting sailing adventure. There is more to come in a future sequel (or prequel, I’m not sure) to this book, can’t wait.
Graveminder by Melissa Marr
Graveminder follows Rebekkah Barrow, a young woman who returns to her home town to attend the funeral of her grandmother, Maylene, and discovers she is the new Graveminder, one who performs a ritual at funerals to ensure the dead stay dead. Rebekkah’s old love interest, Byron, is the undertaker who helps her place the dead back in their grave if the ritual is not performed, or performed incorrectly. Creepy!!
Fortunately, my book club picked a second book, Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris, which I have read before but will happily re-read each night as a palette cleanser to Graveminder. Which would you rather fall asleep reading about, the un-dead or the hilarious?!