Breaking Free – Book 1

Why would a man who has everything leave?

Denis Hickey, successful Silicon Valley businessman at the peak of his career, trades his Mercedes for a backpack and travels the world for a year. He leaves his high powered job and hectic life style, says goodbye to family and friends, and sets out on a carefree exploration of the world, people and love.

Breaking Free is a zesty travel adventure woven around a journey of personal discovery and transformation. Travel gives Denis a unique perspective to reflect on his family, and himself as a man and individual. The Breaking Free series pulls the reader into the intimacy, freedom and mystery of long term travel. Spun out against the exotic backdrop of the world’s theatre, Book 1 takes the reader thru the wilderness of Africa (Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, Zanzibar, Egypt), explosiveness and charm of Middle East, and the vastness and romance of Siberia.

Denis finds as much adventure as he could possibly want: the perilous experience of fourth class travel during a wild ride in beat up cars to reach the primitive jungle islands of Ssese by nightfall, or fearfully confronting a savage African lion at dusk, or facing near-death sailing the Nile in a felucca with the handsome Nubian, Captain Niya. Breaking Free is not only a travel adventure story. There are powerful cultural insights, like thoughts of Maasai men regarding female circumcision, as they called it, and multiple wives, how Muslim mores are influenced by the West, and what it means to have lived as a communist. He crosses seven time zones to catch an elegant boat headed to the Arctic City on top of the world. On the boat he learns Russian history from Russians.

There is also romance and a love story. He has encounters with African ladies, becomes entangled with a striking Siberian woman who speaks no English, and falls in love with the only person on the boat who spoke English.  

If Denis’s adventures and romance provide the story’s housing, then the extraordinary, witty dialogues, and smart conversations provide the foundation. He asks bold questions and uses charm to get to know people on an intimate level, he exchanges views on how the world works and learns how different cultures conduct family life.

The Traveler – Breaking Free Series Book 2

Halfway through his year traveling the world, former Silicon Valley highflier Denis Hickey is forced to face his past and his potential future.  As a backpacker in his late forties, and unafraid to try anything, Denis has unforgettable encounters with everyone he meets.  Crossing Turkey, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Bali, and Australia, he comes face to face with spirituality and religion, sex and love, poverty and death – from helping shoot a documentary on Bangkok prostitutes to chatting alone with Mother Teresa in Calcutta.

Yet even as he unfolds a more open and less controlling personality, his family and friends from his old life join him on his adventures and challenge his newfound freedom and worldview.  In the Traveler, the second book of the Breaking Free Series, Denis confronts his life and choices with honesty, humor and insight.  His personal journey to break free from the rigid roles imposed on us – to find love and new ways of living – will find an echo in everyone’s life.


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