Synopses & Reviews
Ollestad, we can do it 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.
"In a spare, brisk prose, Ollestad tells the tragic story of the pivotal event of his life, an airplane crash into the side of a mountain that cost three lives, including his father's, in 1979. Only 11 years old at the time, he alone survived, using the athletic skills he learned in competitive downhill skiing, amid the twisted wreckage, the bodies and the bone-chilling cold of the blizzard atop the 8,600-foot mountain. Although the narrative core of the memoir remains the horrifying plane crackup into the San Gabriel Mountains, its warm, complex soul is conveyed by the loving relationship between the former FBI agent father and his son, affectionately called the 'Boy Wonder,' during the golden childhood years spent in wild, freewheeling Malibu and Mexico in the late 1970s. Ollestad's unyielding concentration on the themes of courage, love and endurance seep into every character portrait, every scene, making this book an inspiring, fascinating read." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
:A page-turning adventure tale...and a meditation on manhood." Los Angeles magazine
"... [A]n 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." Jim Harrison
"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. Deep and resonant." Kirkus Reviews
A heart-stopping adventure that ends in tragedy and in triumphs, [Crazy for the Storm is] a love story that fearlessly explores the bond between a father and son and what it means to lead a life without limits. Susan Cheever
“Breathtaking....Crazy for the Storm will keep you up late into the night.”
—Washington Post Book World
Norman Olsteads New York Times bestselling memoir Crazy for the Storm is the story of the harrowing plane crash the author miraculously survived at age eleven, framed by the moving tale of his complicated relationship with his charismatic, adrenaline-addicted father. Destined to stand with other classic true stories of man against nature—Into Thin Air and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer; Sebastian Jungers The Perfect Storm—it is a literary triumph that novelist Russell Banks (Affliction) calls, “A heart-stopping story beautifully told….Norman Olstead has written a book that may well be read for generations.”
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 an eight-year-old son.