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.
Pulitzer Prizewinner Lucinda Franks
“Extraordinaryan 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.”
…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
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)
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
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“At times beautiful, at times heart-wrenching, Crazy for the Storm is a commanding reada 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.
“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.”
Los Angeles Magazine
“A page-turning adventure tale . . . and a meditation on manhood.”
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.”
“Tragic and exotic ...[with] short, punchy chapters and...nonstop emphasis on adrenaline-fueled excitement.”
“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
"Extraordinaryan 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."
“As much a thriller as a memoir . . . gorgeously written, perfectly controlled.”
“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.”
“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.”