Amazon Best of the Month, June 2009: The story itself could take your breath away: an 11-year-old boy, the only survivor of a small-plane crash in the San Gabriel Mountains in 1979, makes his way to safety down an icy mountain face in a blizzard, using the skills and determination he learned from his father. But it’s the way that Norman Ollestad tells his tale that makesCrazy for the Storm a memoir that will last. He almost has too much to tell: a way-larger-than-life father–former child actor, FBI man (who took on Hoover in a controversial book), and surfer who drove his son to test his limits in the surf and on the slopes; a youth spent in the short-lived counterculture paradise of Topanga Canyon; a stepfather who could give Tobias Wolff’s a run for his money; and of course the crash. But writing 30 years later, Ollestad is wise and talented enough to focus his story on the essentials, cutting elegantly back and forth between a moment-by-moment account of the crash and his memories of the difficult but often idyllic year leading up to it. More than a story of survival, it’s a time-tempered reckoning with what it means to be a father and a son.
Norman Olstead’s 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 Junger’s 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.”