Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival (Hardcover)
June 2010 Indie Next List
“Norman Ollstad's memoir of surviving a plane crash, in a howling winter storm high on the side of Ontario Peak in Southern California, is not merely a gripping story of an 11-year old boy's survival, but the bitter tale of a son's struggling to comprehend his father's death, the heroic story of his efforts, ultimately futile, to save his father's injured girl friend, and the saga of his wildly improbably descent of the mountain under horrendous conditions through astonishing presence of mind and perseverance. Greatly enriching this fascinating and well written account of survival are alternating chapters describing young Norman's complicated and confusing life growing up with his divorced mother and her live-in boyfriend on Topanga Beach, and his love-hate relationship with his proud and demanding father who, on skiing and surfing adventures in California and Mexico, constantly pushes him to--and sometimes beyond--the limits of his young physical and mental abilities. Struggling with post-survival guilt and the confusion of early adolescence, Norman comes to realize that it was the adversity his father made him confront that gave him the skills with which he survive his ordeal. The story's final challenge comes on a skiing trip to Mammoth Mountain, where his own father often took him as a boy, when the now grown Norman must confront the hopes he has for his own son, and decide how close to push him towards that thin line between safety and danger where lessons are learned. IN SUMMARY: Written in simple, almost matter-of-fact, but elegant prose, Crazy for the Storm is a coming-of-age story like you've never read, full of tragedy, beauty, struggle, adventure, and life-lessons--highly recommended for both adults and young adults, especially fathers and sons.”
— Gary Colliver, Windows on the World-Books & Art, Mariposa, CA
June 2009 Indie Next List
“Crazy for the Storm is a riveting account of survival. Norman Ollestad weaves the story of his unconventional early childhood and the details of a horrible airplane crash into a brilliant tribute to his adventurous father.”
— Jamie Robinson, Bestsellers Books & Coffee Co., Mason, MI
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.
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 offers remarkable insight for us all.
About the Author
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.
“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.”
-New York Post
“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.”
“Breathtaking...A portrait of a father’s consuming love for his son, Crazy for the Storm will keep you up late into the night.”
-Washington Post Book World
“Tragic and exotic ...[with] short, punchy chapters and...nonstop emphasis on adrenaline-fueled excitement.”
-Janet Maslin, New York Times
“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.”
“A page-turning adventure tale . . . and a meditation on manhood.”
-Los Angeles Magazine
“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.
“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.”
“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.”
-Pulitzer Prize–winner Lucinda Franks, author of My Father's Secret War
“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.”
“Engrossing...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)…Deep and resonant.”
“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.”