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Crazy for the Storm

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,183 Ratings  ·  774 Reviews
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.


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.
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 2nd 2009 by Ecco (first published 2009)
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The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHatchet by Gary PaulsenCatching Fire by Suzanne CollinsLord of the Flies by William GoldingLife of Pi by Yann Martel
Best Survival Stories
104th out of 741 books — 1,409 voters
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Best books of June, 2009
1st out of 14 books — 12 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Will Byrnes
Apr 15, 2015 Will Byrnes rated it it was amazing
In this fast, engaging tale Norman Ollestad tells about how he survived a mountaintop plane crash as an 11-year-old, a crash that killed the pilot, his father and his father’s girlfriend, and how his relationship with his father, and the skills he had learned under his tutelage, had prepared him for his near-death ordeal.

Ollestad tells of his upbringing, of his charismatic surfer/lawyer/coach father who drove him to peaks of physical performance he would never have reached un-pushed, and who br
I love survival stories and this one is an amazing true tale. 11 year old boy and his father are in a small plane that crashes high on a snow-covered mountain. The boy alone survives. This is the story of how his relationship with his free spirited, yet demanding father gave him the tools he needed to make it down the mountain. I was initially irritated by the alternating chapters (I just wanted to stay at the crash site), but as the book progressed I became more and more interested in the under ...more
Mar 02, 2010 AnnaMay rated it did not like it
So, I know this was supposed to be a phenomenal, amazing, outstanding account of a hair-raising experience. On the jacket cover it says, "May dads give it to their sons, may sons give it to their dads, and may all the mothers and daughters out there weep for the men they have known."

Well, pahleeeese. I hadn't read the jacket cover before reading the book, and that's good, because my deflated feeling would have only be accentuated.

I tried to keep an open mind as I read. I developed sympathy, at f
Jul 26, 2009 Kathleen rated it it was ok
I admire Mr. Ollestad and I cannot imagine what he went through.

I don't mean to diminish his story or the insights he gleans and shares with the reader in any way. If I were a surfing or skiing enthusiast, I'm sure I would appreciate the exhaustive attention to detail afforded those sports.

I have been spoiled by reading the work of Jon Krakauer and Sebastian Junger. The chapter by chapter flashes back and forward are initially engaging but become tiresome rather quickly. Also, no matter how deep
Opening Line: “February 19,1979. At seven that morning my dad, his girlfriend Sandra and I took off from Santa Monica Airport headed for the mountains of Big Bear.”

Set amid the wild uninhibited surf culture of Malibu and Mexico in the late 1970’s, Crazy For The Storm is a fascinating memoir that was hard to put down. It centers around 11 year old Norman Ollestad and the complicated relationship he had with his father. Demanding, charismatic and free-spirited, it is ultimately the thrill-seeking
Sep 03, 2009 Melanie rated it it was ok
Though not quite as boastful or badly written, this book reminded me a lot of A Million Little Pieces (a book I abhor, and not for any of the reasons Oprah slammed it--please, all nonfiction is, to some degree, untrue, particularly memoir. I'm surprised that more people weren't offended by Frey's atrociously bad writing--I could barely read a quarter of the book, and I really tried to get through it. But that's another review . . . )

Crazy for the Storm chronicles eleven-year-old Ollestad's stru
Alyce (At Home With Books)
Jan 01, 2010 Alyce (At Home With Books) rated it really liked it
Crazy For the Storm is a compelling memoir that reads just like a novel. The chapters alternate between his time on the mountain after the plane crash and his life leading up to that point. Norman Ollestad recounts his unusual upbringing and how he had to rely on his earlier experiences and lessons taught by his dad in order to survive on the mountain.

I was astounded by the activities that Norman's father made him participate in at such a young age. He was surfing and downhill skiing at a very y
Mar 20, 2009 Leslie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 16, 2009 Katie rated it really liked it
I find myself disliking the subject of most memoirs, the author. This generally means that I don't typicallay read them ... why hang out with some self indulgent, egocentric, narcissist for hours and hours while they talk about their favorite subject: themselves? I didn't like hanging out with jeanette Walls, I really didn't like hanging out with Elizabeth Gilbert and, most recently, I ultimately didn't like the author of Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven because, of course, the book concludes ...more
Sep 28, 2009 Erin rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
The reason I gave this book only two stars was because it was actually pretty boring. While I admire Ollestad and can't imagine surviving what he did, the infinite details about skiing and surfing were way above my head. I had no idea what he was describing most of the time, and he explains everything in excruciating detail. Every other chapter, for most of the book, describes the plane crash, and I found the chapters inbetween pretty boring, and after awhile it was really irritating the way the ...more
ej cullen
Nov 29, 2009 ej cullen rated it did not like it
A skinny memoir in search of an editor. How does one tell a 272 page story of a plane-crash in which your father, his girl-friend, and the pilot die and only you, an eleven-year old, survive, and somehow manage to continually and ultimately bore the reader to distraction? (He writes this 27 years after the event.) I learned self-serving banalities about surfboards, skiing, teenage parties, and on and on but precious little about the pre-crash/crash specifics. Not even a simple fleshing-out of th ...more
Apr 15, 2010 Louise rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
I gave this book a lower rating than I normally would as I felt there was just waaay too much filler information. Just get to the 'real' story already!!! I find these types of books frustrating to read. Mr. Ollestad had more than enough information regarding his lone descent down the mountain after a plane crash and his subsequent rescue to make the book quite enjoyable. However, adding all the filler information in every other chapter took away from the drama of the real story.

All in all, still
Apr 20, 2009 Matt rated it liked it
As others have commented, this book can be a bit frustrating in its structure, given that it "bills" itself as a survival story, yet keeps alternating to chapters about the author's earlier childhood that are significantly longer than the survival chapters. Yet, perhaps this imbalance is a necessity, considering that the survival ordeal only lasted 11 (albeit harrowing) hours. But really, the book is centered around a compelling contradiction: it is his father's very reckless passion for life th ...more
Jan 13, 2010 Betsy rated it it was amazing
Obviously, if you read a memoir by a plane crash survivor there’s no suspense as to whether or not he survived but what Ollestad does so well is alternate short, concisely written chapters about key moments in his life leading up to this with the scenario he is faced with on the mountain. He really gets inside the mentality that was needed to believe that he could survive and how this was instilled in him, often in ways that he wasn’t so happy about at the time, by his dad who pushed him to exce ...more
Aug 01, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it
First, before I get to the praise, I have to confess a niggling skepticism about this memoir (thanks, James Frey! I didn't even read your "A Million Little Pieces" and its lies and half-truths are still casting shadows of doubt over the other memoirs I read.) In this case, my doubts stem less from riveting story itself and more from just wondering how an adult can remember events and interpersonal exchanges (that took place when he was a kid) so vividly.
That said, it truly is a GRIPPING story--a
Paul Pessolano
Feb 03, 2011 Paul Pessolano rated it did not like it
The book is sub-titled, "A Memoir of Survival".

This book is a memoir of the life of Norman Ollestad, however, very little has to do with his surviving a plane crash. Yes, he was in a plane that hit an 8,600 ft mountain during a blizzard. The crash killed the pilot and Norman's father instantly. His father's girlfriend, Sandra, survived but later died in an attempt to find help.

Norman, who was eleven at the time of the crash, was able to use the mental and physcial skills that were taught by his
James Korsmo
In this well-written account, Norman Ollestad tells the compelling tale of his own survival of a small plane crash high in the San Gabriel Mountains of California. As an 11-year-old boy, he was the lone survivor of the crash, and had to make his way down the steep face of the mountain alone in order to escape the deadly cold. Interwoven with this narrative is the larger tale of his relationship with his dad.

Normand Ollestad Sr. was a driven man, who loved to push the envelope in skiing, in surfi
Kathleen Hagen
Crazy for the Storm, by Norman Ollestad, narrated by Norman Ollestad, produced by Harper Audio, downloaded from

This is the true story of Norman Ollestad Jr. His father, Norman Ollestad, (Big Norm, to his Little Norm) was a dynamo. He was a child actor, (acting in the original “Cheaper by the Dozen” and other things, including the t.v. series “Sky King.” After he stopped acting, he went to law school and had a law firm with another good friend. He never saw a thrill he didn’t want to
Oct 01, 2009 Shelah rated it liked it
In February 1979, a small plane crashed in the San Gabriel Mountains of California. The pilot and two passengers died. Several hours later, an eleven year-old boy walked into the village at the bottom of the slope, the lone survivor. How did he survive? Was it good luck? What kind of eleven-year-old can make it down the practically-vertical face of a snow-covered mountain by himself? Ollestad tells his story, both how he survived, and how his father (who died in the crash) prepared him, with a c ...more
Dec 19, 2009 Renee rated it really liked it
I've had a copy of this one for a while, but finally picked it up yesterday morning. Couldn't put it down, and was done by the next morning. It reads fast, but not fluffy. Norm tells the true story of surviving a plane crash at age 11 where he had to get down a mountain in a storm, alone, and alternates chapters of that experience with chapters about growing up with his dad, who died in the crash. He explains how his dad's pushing him hard and early in skiing, surfing, and hockey prepared him to ...more
Volodymyr Dehtyarov
Единственный уцелевший после крушения самолета, 11-летний мальчишка выбирается с гор. У него нет теплой одежды, снаряжения, еды – есть только горнолыжный и серферский опыт и уроки отца, погибшего в катастрофе. История о сильных и безрассудных людях, о семье и отношениях, о целине и волнах. И еще о том, что «что бы вы ни делали, вашему ребенку будет о чем рассказать своем психоаналитику».
Man, people are pretty harsh about this book! But I get it. The way Ollestad switches back and forth each chapter between the plane crash and the year or so leading up to it definitely take some getting used to. I actually found both parts of his story really interesting though, and I feel like the final chapters about the aftermath of the crash really tie everything together. In the end, I don't even really feel like this is a book about a kid who is the sole survivor of a plane crash, but it's ...more
Mar 03, 2010 Jen rated it did not like it
Ok this should have been a good book - a great book but it wasn't. I think you could've read the little blurb on the front cover and been good. It was about a boy involved in a plane crash with his father and father's girlfriend (true story) and the 11 year old boy at the time (the now 40 something author) was the only one to survive. Interesting and intriguing right? Wrong. The story was pretty much told in the first chapter and the rest of the book went back and forth between him getting down ...more
~♥~ happinesslife

Una historia real, contada por el propio protagonista, que te adentrara en la vida de un niño que de repente perdió una parte muy importante de su vida y gracias a sus enseñanzas, siguió adelante.
Nov 11, 2015 Lyra rated it really liked it
It's not the smoothest memoir I've read, but beyond the plane crash survival aspect, Ollstead took me to a time and place (70's surf culture) heretofore unknown to me and brought it alive.
Max Meleshko
Jun 03, 2016 Max Meleshko rated it it was amazing
Crazy For The Storm by Norman Ollestad is a memoir about his story in prevailing against unimaginable odds to survive, and live the rest of his life. There are about 20-25 characters in the book, but the main ones are Norman Ollestad, his dad, his mother, and his step dad Nick. The whole story pretty much takes place mainly in California, where Norman's family resides, where his grandparents live, and in Austria for a stint. Norman, or “boy wonder” as his dad likes to call him is an excellent sk ...more
Jan 04, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it
3 1/2 stars. In February 1979, a small chartered plane carrying the author, then 11 years old, his father, his father's girlfriend, and the hired pilot crashed into the side of a Southern California mountain. This memoir is the remarkable story told some 30 years later. Little Norm grew up surfing, skiing, skateboarding, and was pushed and challenged beyond any normal expectations by his dad, who claimed that competing wasn't about winning, not always with complete conviction.

Big Norm was an at
Sep 02, 2009 Pumpkinbear rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Libby Chester
Jul 01, 2012 Libby Chester rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 16, 2010 Sue rated it liked it
Only three stars but still worth reading...Crazy for the Storm is an unforgettable true story (see YouTube: but the writing has some serious flaws: The juxtaposition of the narration, shifting back and forth from chapter to chapter (Ollestad shifts between the events on the mountain and earlier events of his young life) and the use of too many irrelevant and descriptive details, adjectives and analogies. All of which made for a tedious and somewhat borin ...more
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Norman Ollestad, a New York Times BESTSELLING author, studied creative writing at UCLA and attended UCLA’s undergrad Film School. His writing has appeared in Outside, Men’s Journal and Time. He is married and has two children—a son and daughter—and lives in Venice, California.
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“My dad had previously spoken about 'fighting through things to get to the good stuff' or some such concept, and as he shook the salt water out of his curly brown hair, he talked more about people 'giving up and missing out on fantastic moments'.” 0 likes
“There is more to life than just surviving it. Inside each turbulence there is a calm—a sliver of light buried in the darkness.” 0 likes
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