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Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  5,270 ratings  ·  875 reviews
Ollestad, 41, was thrust into the world of surfing and competitive downhill skiing at a very young age by the father he idolized. Resentful of a childhood lost to his father’s reckless and demanding adventures, young Ollestad was often paralyzed by fear. Set in Malibu and Mexico in the late 1970s, the book captures the earthy surf culture of Southern California; the boy’s ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 2nd 2009 by Ecco (first published 2009)
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Kate R I don't think this would be appropriate for an 11 year old because of the references to sex in the book. Also, the description of the pilot's death is…moreI don't think this would be appropriate for an 11 year old because of the references to sex in the book. Also, the description of the pilot's death is the only real graphic part- it's a small part but the author describes the pilot's disfigured face.(less)

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Will Byrnes
Mar 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
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.

Norman Ollestad - image from Counterpoint Press

Ollestad tells of his upbringing, of his charismatic surfer/lawyer/coach father who drove him to peaks of physical performance he
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
Raising a child this way? Abysmal attitudes. A bunch of irresponsible people who should not have been allowed to touch a child with a seven-foot pole. Beating, recklessly endangering a minor, emotinal trauma - we have it all inflicted on this child. What's even worse is that the author, the grown-up version of this child seems to be thinking it was all ok!

I'm not gonna spoil it but this gives us a story of a whole lot more horrible childhood than even The Glass Castle. And that goes to say some
J.K. Grice
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
CRAZY FOR THE STORM is an unbelievable account of a young man's family struggles and an incredible story of survival as well. If you enjoy books likes INTO THE WILD, this is a great read!
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
Jul 12, 2009 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
Mar 02, 2010 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
Sep 03, 2009 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
Mar 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 23, 2009 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 28, 2009 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
Alyce (At Home With Books)
Jan 01, 2010 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
Jun 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Pessolano
Feb 03, 2011 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
Aug 16, 2009 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
Apr 20, 2009 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
Aug 01, 2009 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
Apr 15, 2010 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
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
Dawn Michelle
This is a tough book to both rate [I am rating it a high 3] and review. If you rate it low, you are a heartless person who cares little about a little boy who barely survived a plane crash that kills everyone else on board and if you rate it high, you are saying that it is well-written, riveting and that the audiobook [IF that is how you are experiencing this book] is also excellent and in this case, this would be somewhat of a lie.
There are moments that are riveting [the crash itself and the a
Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

Dang. This was required reading, and I'm tempted to give this five stars but I don't want to jump the gun, I guess I'll decide later. This was an amazing memoir. Touching, complex, beautiful, and thrilling, it centers around an imperfect but passionate relationship between a father and his son. It's about pushing on when things seem hopeless, adapting to life when things seem to go off-course. The writing was raw and beautiful, the atmosphere of this book was so tangible
Oct 01, 2009 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
Jul 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
Surprisingly worthwhile, and clearly not for everyone, this book grew on me, warts and all. First and foremost, an epic survivor's tale, it details a tragic father-son relationship in an other-wordly surfing culture (which I simply cannot relate to) with forays into skiing and travel (with which I'm far more familiar, but which bear no resemblance to any of my (far more mundane) experiences). The remarkable (and seemingly squandered) talent of both father and son pervade the yarn. I picked this ...more
Jul 22, 2009 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
Dec 19, 2009 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
Mar 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
If I had to judge the author from this one book, I would say he is a man child who never actually grew up. Some of the experiences and moments he chose to include in this memoir have nothing to do with his main story (how his dad and their relationship gave him the keys to survive on an icy mountain alone). It reads more like the point of view of a 14 year old boy in the midst of puberty and the stories he tells to his buddies, which are likely half fact half fiction. It is hard to tell how much ...more
May 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Like father/son books? How about surfing books? Downhill racing? Wilderness adventure? CRAZY FOR THE STORM is all of the above rolled into one. Big Norman, a definite throwback to the overbearing, pushy, loving dad, pushes Little Norman to the limit. The L'il guy loves to hate it (or hates to love it, maybe), but it all helps him to survive major hardship in the end. That is, Boy Wonder survives the Chapter One plane crash that takes his dad. Back and forth go the alternating chapters between th ...more
Mar 03, 2010 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
Sandra Strange
Apr 01, 2011 rated it did not like it
I don't recommend this book. The story is gripping enough: an 11 year old survives the crash of the private plane taking him and his father and his father's girlfriend, along with the plane's pilot, to the boy's ski competition. The rest of the book details how he survives, though injured, the harrowing struggle to reach civilization. The problem with the book is his father's lifestyle and the attitudes that it has bred into this man, attitudes that get in the way of the story. Besides the very ...more
Feb 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, read-in-2012
At times the storyline abruptly changes from "the incident" to "life with Dad / StepDad / Mom" - a bit annoying. The story of the crash and what follows are compelling enough to not want to be pulled away, especially to what initially seems to be a less interesting and negative situation. As the story progresses, you begin to see how the life lessons he learns from his abusive stepfather and the things he's learned from his Dad are what ultimately see him through everything post-crash.
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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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