Breaking Free

Suzanne Heywood author


Publisher:HarperCollins Publishers

Published:25th Apr '24


Available for immediate dispatch.

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Wavewalker cover




‘Grippingly vivid and pacey’ THE TIMES

‘A seven-year old girl on a seventy-foot yacht, for ten years, over fifty thousand miles of sailing’ SIMON WINCHESTER

'An astonishing almost day-by-day account of [a] hazardous journey and its legacy’ TELEGRAPH

‘This is a story of an epic childhood journey, so exciting and so shocking it is hard to know whether you’re reading about a dream or a nightmare… Wavewalker is thrilling, horrifying, beautifully written – I couldn’t put it down’ ED BALLS

Aged just seven, Suzanne Heywood set sail with her parents and brother on a three-year voyage around the world. What followed turned instead into a decade-long way of life, through storms, shipwrecks, reefs and isolation, with little formal schooling. No one else knew where they were most of the time and no state showed any interest in what was happening to the children.

Suzanne fought her parents, longing to return to England and to education and stability. This memoir covers her astonishing upbringing, a survival story of a child deprived of safety, friendships, schooling and occasionally drinking water… At seventeen Suzanne earned an interview at Oxford University and returned to the UK.

From the bestselling author of What Does Jeremy Think?, Wavewalker is the incredible true story of how the adventure of a lifetime became one child’s worst nightmare – and how her determination to educate herself enabled her to escape

‘A classic memoir of childhood. This is a book that every parent should read to consider the consequences of their midlife crises, and every child should read to learn how to deal with impossible mums and dads, as well as boils and barnacles’ Mail on Sunday 5*

‘An electrifying story about an extraordinary childhood, and Heywood tells it with remarkable clarity and assurance . . . an engrossing book that pitches the reader into the highs and lows of a young life spent in the “Wavewalker School of the Sea”’TLS


‘Suzanne's memoir exposes, scene by scene, the bare reality behind the romantic notion of sailing round the world . . . You can't read her story without a growing sense of fury at her plight — a minor, thousands of miles from home, trapped with her parents and totally misunderstood by them . . . beautifully written’ Daily Mail

‘Beautifully written . . . nuanced and honest . . . stormy in every sense’ Tortoise Media

‘A jaw-dropping and thrilling real-life adventure on the high seas’ SARAH BROWN

‘An extraordinary story of adventure and self-discovery. Suzanne Heywood’s determination to get an education despite all the obstacles she faced leads her on a path of true freedom’ Minouche Shafik, Director of the LSE

‘Even for an experienced sailor, a ten-year voyage across some of the world’s most dangerous oceans would give pause for thought. That Suzanne survived this and made her way back to dry land and a successful future is remarkable. Her book is stunningly good’ Ranulph Fiennes, World's Greatest Living Explorer

‘This personal and powerful book is so great. What a journey – a hardcore one at times. I’m glad the compass has found its way home’ Bear Grylls

‘In the most difficult circumstances, trapped at sea on a boat, surviving violent storms, Suzanne has demonstrated how education can transform a life’ Tony Blair

‘Her fight for an education will astonish all who read it’ Anthony Seldon

‘The story of extraordinary upbringing on a boat in the South Pacific recounted with wit, verve and deep insight… Humanity’s innate passion for learning shines on every page and triumphs gloriously’ Sir Michael Barber, author of Accomplishment: How Ambitious and Challenging Things Get Done

ISBN: 9780008498535

Dimensions: 198mm x 129mm x 30mm

Weight: 220g

416 pages