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Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival

( 57 )

Overview

Dad Said

Olestad, we can do i t all. . . .

Why do you make me do this?

Because it's beautiful when it all comes together.

I don't think it's ever beautiful.

One day.

Never.

We'll see, my father said. Vamanos.

From the age of three, Norman...

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Overview

Dad Said

Olestad, we can do i t all. . . .

Why do you make me do this?

Because it's beautiful when it all comes together.

I don't think it's ever beautiful.

One day.

Never.

We'll see, my father said. Vamanos.

From the age of three, Norman Ollestad was thrust into the world of surfing and competitive downhill skiing by the intense, charismatic father he both idolized and resented. While his friends were riding bikes, playing ball, and going to birthday parties, young Norman was whisked away in pursuit of wild and demanding adventures. Yet it were these exhilarating tests of skill that prepared "Boy Wonder," as his father called him, to become a fearless champion—and ultimately saved his life.

Flying to a ski championship ceremony in February 1979, the chartered Cessna carrying Norman, his father, his father's girlfriend, and the pilot crashed into the San Gabriel Mountains and was suspended at 8,200 feet, engulfed in a blizzard. "Dad and I were a team, and he was Superman," Ollestad writes. But now Norman's father was dead, and the devastated eleven-year-old had to descend the treacherous, icy mountain alone.

Set amid the spontaneous, uninhibited surf culture of Malibu and Mexico in the late 1970s, this riveting memoir, written in crisp Hemingwayesque prose, recalls Ollestad's childhood and the magnetic man whose determination and love infuriated and inspired him—and also taught him to overcome the indomitable. As it illuminates the complicated bond between an extraordinary father and his son, Ollestad's powerful and unforgettable true story offersremarkable insight for us all.

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  • Norman Ollestad
    Norman Ollestad  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Like many other sons of demanding fathers, young Norman Ollestad, Jr. idolized, feared, and resented the man who drove him towards excellence. Prodded along by the dad who called him "The Boy Wonder," Norm Jr. became a champion surfer and downhill skier. That partnership took a fatal turn in February 1979, when a Cessna carrying father and son crashed, killing the father and temporarily marooning the 11-year-old boy in a relentless blizzard. In Crazy for the Storm, Ollestad pays tribute to the man who taught him the gift of survival. Now in paperback.

Bill Gifford
…breathtaking…A portrait of a father's consuming love for his son, Crazy for the Storm will keep you up late into the night.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Ollestad's memoir intersperses his harrowing childhood trauma as the sole survivor of a plane crash that killed his father with his coming of age in the '70s West Coast culture of surfing, skiing and skateboarding. A competent and engaging narrator, Ollestad evokes emotional intensity without descending into sentimentality and creates memorable portraits of his heroic father and his mother's abusive boyfriend. Granted, Ollestad presents his 11-year-old self as a tad more introspective and worldly wise than one might expect, but as the adult Ollestad reflects on how he was shaped by the hard-living, extreme sports culture of his family and community, the essence of a young man forced to grow up too quickly rings true. An Ecco hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 23). (June)
Kirkus Reviews
An engrossing story of adventure, survival and psychological exploration. Ollestad hits several notes that should make his memoir irresistible to those looking for page-turning but thought-provoking summer reading along the lines of Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air (1997). In the winter of 1979, the 11-year-old Ollestad survived a plane crash in which his father and his father's girlfriend were killed. Alternating with young Norman's nine-hour trek to safety are scenes from the year preceding the crash, when the boy took a surfing trip with his father through the jungle along Mexico's Pacific coast. The flashbacks sections are the most fascinating parts of the book, and Ollestad ably captures the contrast between his charismatically cool father, Norman Sr., and his bullying stepfather-to-be, Nick. A photo of the elder Ollestad surfing with his one-year-old son strapped to his back captures the essence of the author's relationship with Norman Sr. He is convinced that his father's gentle but unyielding insistence that young Norman develop a sense of mastery over physical, emotional and mental challenges helped him survive the crash. The chapters that follow also suggest that his subtler ordeals with Nick were similarly important in the building of his character. Though some of the minutely detailed descriptions of his journey down the mountain read like creative-writing assignments gone awry, Ollestad presents a captivating account of high-altitude disaster that nicely dovetails with his coming-of-age story in '70s California. Deep and resonant. Author tour to Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and by request
Janet Maslin
“Tragic and exotic ...[with] short, punchy chapters and...nonstop emphasis on adrenaline-fueled excitement.”
Jim Harrison
Crazy for the Storm is an absolutely compelling book which I read in one long sitting. The fact that it’s true made me shudder, but then Norman Ollestad is a fine writer and every detail is convincing.”
Pulitzer Prize-winner - Lucinda Franks
"Extraordinary—an adventure story with a rich psychological foundation from an enormously talented author. Crazy for the Storm is a powerful book. It deserves to be a bestseller."
Carolyn See
“As much a thriller as a memoir . . . gorgeously written, perfectly controlled.”
Susan Cheever
“A heart-stopping adventure that ends in tragedy and in triumph, a love story that fearlessly explores the bond between a father and son and what it means to lead a life without limits.”
Russell Banks
“A book that may well be read for generations. It’s a book that fathers should give to their sons, but sons should give it to their fathers, too . . . mothers, wives, sisters and daughters: read it and weep for all the boys and men you have ever loved.”
Pulitzer Prize–winner Lucinda Franks
“Extraordinary—an adventure story with a rich psychological foundation from an enormously talented author. Crazy for the Storm is a powerful book. It deserves to be a bestseller.”
Los Angeles Magazine
“A page-turning adventure tale . . . and a meditation on manhood.”
New York Post
“An elegant memoir as well as a transformative coming-of-age tale. When he leaves his father’s limp body behind on the icy plateau—giving it a final kiss and caress as it’s claimed by the snow—Ollestad takes his first perilous steps not just into survival, but into adulthood.”
Washington Post Book World
“Breathtaking...A portrait of a father’s consuming love for his son, Crazy for the Storm will keep you up late into the night.”
Chicago Tribune
“Cinematic and personal . . . Ollestad’s insights into growing up in a broken home and adolescence in southern California are as engrossing as the story of his trip down the mountain.”
USA Today
“The memoir is as much about a father-son relationship as it is a survival story...Ollestad says his father’s life philosophy about surfing and skiing - ‘knowing there’s always a place to go and find peace, clear your mind’ - got him down the mountain and through life.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Riveting.”
BookPage
“At times beautiful, at times heart-wrenching, Crazy for the Storm is a commanding read—a tale that proves the power of the human spirit can rise against any challenge, and a father’s legacy can be more than he imagines.
Houston Chronicle
“Never a dull moment....[Ollestad has] written a beautiful story about a thrill-loving father — ‘the man with the sunshine in his eyes’— who taught his boy not just how to live, but how to thrive.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061766787
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/11/2010
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 144,042
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Norman Ollestad

Norman Ollestad studied creative writing at UCLA and attended UCLA Film School. He grew up on Topanga Beach in Malibu and now lives in Venice, California. He is the father of a nine-year-old son.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 57 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(20)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(4)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 57 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 27, 2010

    wish I'd known

    The story is interesting. The writing is fine. Unfortunately, I still wouldn't recommend this book to any of my friends or family. Call me a prude or whatever, but I would not have bought the book had I known about the sex and frequent use of the F word. I understand that the author was painting a picture of the lifestyle he grew up with, but I believe he could have accomplished that without the explicit crudeness. I read all 28 reviews before downloading the e-book to my nook. I now realize some reviews probably contained veiled references to the adult-themed content, but I'm new to this and didn't see through them (i.e., the person who said they stopped reading because they didn't care for "his writing style"). I wish books had content advisories like those for movies and music. This would be especially helpful for buying e-books, since you can't flip through the pages like you would when buying a hard copy at the bookstore. I suppose a lot of people don't consider sex and language a negative issue -- but for those who do, consider yourself advised.

    15 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Compelling story and well written. Two plots of the author's lif

    Compelling story and well written. Two plots of the author's life - one is the relationship with his father and growing up in Malibu and the other is him as the sole survivor in a small plane crash. Each chapter goes back and forth and soon you understand how they are related, as the strength and lessons his father taught him helped Ollestad to survive. It is a quick read and positive affirmation. Enjoyed it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful story of survival and of a unique father-son relationship!

    Incredible book. Fast read. I grew up in the 60-70's and really appreciate the work ethic, freedom, and toughness that people had back then. Today with all of the safety regulations, warning labels, and scary news stories, people are encouraged to be afraid of everything and our kids have become soft. They would never have survived through Norm Ollestad's experiences.

    I would love for my sheltered, Nintendo-playing ten year old son to read this book, but some references are for adults only so he will have to wait until his teenage years to read this.

    This would be an excellent Father's Day book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2009

    Good Book

    This was a very good book!!! It was so sad but also very funny at times. I enjoyed the chapters when they were in Mexico. I also thought it was neat to learn of how people acted in the 70's

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    excellent memoir

    When he was growing up as "The Boy Wonder", Norman Ollestad admired his FBI agent father for his daredevil lifestyle. The older Ollestad was an adrenaline junkie who threw his son into all sorts of wild escapades that often frightened the preteen, but he always dived head first into them anyway. Norman became a Southern California surfer in Malibu as well as a downhill skier. In February 1979 when he was eleven, Norman, his father, his father's girlfriend, and a Cessna pilot were flying a small plane when it crashed into the San Gabriel Mountains during a blizzard. Everyone inside except the tweener was dead. Norman, heeding his father's mantra "never to give up," began a survival test requiring endurance and fortitude that would have killed most adults, but he made it in spite of the freezing temperatures on the mountain.

    Obviously the tragic plane crash and his ultimate survival are the obvious prime events, but CRAZY FOR THE STORM is much more as this memoir focuses on loving relationships especially that of a father and son and on personal courage. Readers will admire Norman Ollestad not because he survived as a tweener an ordeal when he was also grieving, but because of his belief that the brave try when they are afraid; trying when you have no trepidations does not require courage. Fans will enjoy this inspiring memoir that encourages readers to be all we can be by doing.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2013

    Snooze fest

    Wow. Just because something cool happened to someone doesnt mean theyre awesome writers . This book SUCKED!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

    Kiss hand three times post on three other books look under pillow

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2013

    Not good

    To me the book is like something your 6th grader would bring home from the school libary .

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2013

    A good story

    Not "my kind of folks", but this is a heart-felt and well written true family story. I'm glad to have read it.

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  • Posted October 16, 2011

    Good Read

    Definitely a good read. He does jump around a little bit with dates and times. I could see how that might be hard for some too follow but it is a good book and i would recommend it.

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  • Posted September 25, 2011

    Great book with some downs

    Crazy for the Storm by Norman Ollestad is a great book on survival and a very fun experience of Norman's life as he was a young boy to his teenager life. This book shows what Norman's life had been what he did and how his father affected his life, this also explains the story of the crash that he has been through, what he did during the crash, and how he had survived. I liked this book because it was a daring book with a strong feeling to his father, he also shows his emotions towards his family. The book shows what he had been through, divorce, having a cool father, what he didn't like about his family. He explains who his mother gets in a relationship with and why it was a terrible choice; she picked a drunk that would get angry easily and does not take good responsibility. The thing I disliked about this book is that it was very bland and wasn't much of a survival story, more about his life, like an autobiography and the events that took place in his life. It only explained a little bit about his crash on the mountain. Another thing I disliked about this was that he showed a lot of negative emotions towards people, he had been abused, had his feelings hurt, and made some wrong choices. For me it was like reading about a bad experience in life. A major theme in this book is that Norman put this book so that each chapter would change from the crash back to his normal life. Each chapter had changed and you would get into what is happening, whether he was with his dad on a road trip to see his grandparents and surfing in between, then suddenly switching into the survival of the crash and what he did to get out. Something that he did was that towards the climax where he was going to be saved, the chapters were getting shorter and shorter causing the reader to read with more adrenaline and actually feeling the emotional status, the part that everything comes together and finally finishes. Towards the last parts of the book, what I didn't like was that Norman was like a mean kid, he was a bad teen that made bad choices. He always chose to be a bad person, didn't listen to his mom, gave everyone including his mom and Nick (his mom's boyfriend) a "whatever" look which shows that Norman had a really bad attitude towards his parents. This made me feel uneasy about who I was actually reading about. What I did like was that it showed what his father had done for him to become a person to hang out with all the most popular and rich kids in school during his teen years. A lot of people didn't like him and at the same time he was one of the most popular kids. At the point where he explains this is where he says that he had tan skin and looked lean that everyone would see him as a cool kid to hang out with. It showed the affect that happen because of his father, as if his father was making his future better for him. I also realized that not a lot of people like Norman in this book except his grandparents, his mom, and his dad. I didn't quite understand why nobody really liked him, Norman's father's girlfriend always gave him a mean look, Nick abused Norman many times, when they were at a village, many people gave him a dirty look. I think people should read this book for an adventure to see how the life of a troubled young boy felt and what his journey's were throughout his life and how things had affected him. It was nice to see his life but at the same time, it wasn't too necessary. Overall this book was okay, and it has it's ups and dow

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2011

    This is a great book.

    It never seems like anything bad will happen to you until it does. For the author of Crazy for the Storm the event he thought that would never happen had happened on February 19, 1979. It was the day after Norman Ollestad had just won his first ski championship and he had gone back home which was quite a distance away from the mountain were the ski championship had taken place, about ninety miles to be specific. He went back home because he had to play a hockey game. The award ceremony for the ski championship was a few hours after the hockey game and because Norman needed to be at the ceremony a few hours after the hockey game, Norman's father had planed to get a plane to go from the game to the ceremony The only problem was, was that there was a storm coming that day.
    During the time of the story Norman Ollestad is an eleven year old boy who lives on Topanga beach in California. His mother and father are divorced and he doesn't like his stepfather. Norman's father was quite an adventurous man who never let fear get in the way of living life to the fullest; this might have had to do with the fact that he was a child actor and an F.B.I agent. Norman's mother is what you could call a stay home mother who took care of the family and took care of the house. The stepfather was a drunk, who would never say nice things to either Norman or Norman's Mother. Sandra, Norman's father's girlfriend was a crazy thirty year old woman; she always was getting into fights with Norman's father about pointless matters.
    The most important part of the book was when Norman, his father, and Sandra were going to the ski award ceremony after Norman's hockey game by plane and they were caught in a storm which lead the pilot to crash into a mountain, leaving Norman and Norman's father's girlfriend Sandra, the only survivors from the immediate crash.
    When Norman had woken up after the crash the only thing he could think of was the though of if his father was alright. Norman searched all over for his dad and when he found him all he saw was a man leaning over a chair lifeless. Norman Ollestad described his father in such great detail that it made you disgusted but sad at the same time. He put you in his shoes and made you feel as if his father was your loved one just leaning over the chair dead, and you could do nothing about it.
    This would be a good book for anyone. If you don't like skiing, hockey, or planes. It doesn't matter, if you have a love one or even had just lost a loved one, it would make you fell better because in the end, Norman tells you that things happen for a reason and even though they maybe bad, they happened, and because of that you have to make the most of it. Take whatever you learn from the past and put it to affect in the present and in the future. Then nothing can stop you.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Hard to imagine

    There is sometimes a fine line between unbelievable and unimaginable. The things this kid went through are unimaginable to most people but there's no not believing it. This is one fantastic true story.

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  • Posted May 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Adapt To Survive

    In "Crazy For The Storm", by Norman Ollestad, the author talks about himself as a young boy. From adventures on the beaches of California to the majestic mountains of that same state, he covers his childhood and how he survives a fatal plane crash. Throughout this piece of literature, Norman adapts to his new surroundings whether it be the nice warm and pleasant beach and tide, or the blistering cold mountains. When his mother and father get a divorce, he adapts to it and tries his best to just live as successful of a life as possible. Even when his mom finds a new guy, a total jerk he persistently adapts and lives with it. His realization of not only this situation but when he survives a plane crash teaches the reader to never give up and to adapt to your surroundings and push on no matter what the circumstances are. He craftily survives a plane crash in the Californian Mountains, and continuously talks about how if it wasn't for his father he would not be the same, great and "successful" man he is today. His father dies in the crash, which cuts Norman deep if you will, however he fights on to live another day. Never give up. Overall, this book was entertaining and a great read. The diction and word choice made it challenging enough but not too challenging by any means.

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  • Posted March 23, 2010

    Walk in Norman Ollestad's Shoes and Experience Life and Death

    Norman Ollestad takes the reader to places no one has ever been and will never experience in their lifetime. He makes it easy to picture yourself as his neighbor as you grow and mature with him through his childhood years. You yearn to hang out with him because he lived an unstructured life. As Norman narrates each chapter, the reader's imagination strikes up vivid images of the author's surroundings, feelings and fears. As one chapter ends, the next one keeps you on the edge of your chair always wondering what will happen next. Norman Ollestad's life will leave no doubt in your mind that a person's strength lies in your will to survive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2010

    Crazy for the Storm by Norman Ollestad was an interesting book

    There are things I liked about this book and parts I found way too technical. I'm not a skier or surfer and there were sections of description that were way too technical. Most likely someone who loves either of these sports would find these descriptions fascinating. I enjoyed the parts about Norman's dysfunctional family to be the most interesting, and his trip down the mountain after the plane crash was mind-boggling. This book would be a great discussion for book groups - especially if there are skiers or surfers in the group.

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  • Posted October 27, 2009

    A Compelling Tale of Survival: A Mountain, and His Childhood

    In February of 1979 a small plane crashes in the Southern California mountains. The only survivor is an 11 year-old boy. This is Ollestad's tale of growing up at Topanga Beach, surfing and skiing with his ex-FBI agent adrenaline-junkie father. His father constantly pushed him to the limits as a skier and surfer. Being raised in a broken home added to his difficulties, but the lessons he learned and the struggles he endured, ended up saving his life.

    An excellent book. The chapters alternate between his childhood and the crash, forming a compelling tale, that is part thriller, with profound life lessons.

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  • Posted October 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Best Story Ever Written

    When I started reading this book I had no clue what an incredible writer Norman is. Norman Ollestad takes you into the mind of an eleven year old boy and the beginging stages of puberty while taking you on this loving yet adventerous ride with his biological father who had an equally impressive past. You are taken between two different times the in young Ollestads life with his father until towards the end of the book when the two times mesh into a constant time line and you find out every thing you were waiting to findout about where the adventure had taken them. Its truely and incredible story about a boy forced by his father to be the best he could be and how he loved his father despite the resentment for the life style he was forced to live and how eventually it saved his life in the end. Truely heart wrenching. The only negative us that in some cases the jargin the author uses is not common knowledge and you just have to use your imagination to understand what he is talking about.

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  • Posted October 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Pass on this one

    Although the memoir had great potential, and beyond a doubt, it is thrilling and the idea of a young boy surviving a plane crash is compelling, I had a hard time with the idea of his father pushing him not just to the limits, but really, endangering his son. And the mother staying in an abusive relationship? And then the author turns around and is, for the most part, raising his son like he was? Rewrite the script, Norman. No lesson learned here. Not touching. More like, making me angry over the disregard for life.

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  • Posted October 16, 2009

    could not put it down

    fantastic ..very emotional..an amazing eleven year old..insight into a life that most of us will never live..thank you for a great read

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 57 Customer Reviews

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