Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival by Norman Ollestad

Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival by Norman Ollestad

Ollestad, Norman. Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival. Ecco, 2009. ISBN 978-0061766725 288 pp. $


Norm grows up on the Los Angeles beach, with a lawyer dad who worked for the FBI for awhile under Hoover, and his mom, a second grade teacher, who seem to be into CA counterculture. His stepfather Nick is a mean drunk, and he dad pushes Norm to surf and ski and road trip and experience new things, often against his wishes. On a trip home from a ski competition, the propeller plane that seems to be lacking a flight plan, appropriate equipment and instruments, and a competent pilot crashes into a mountainside. The pilot and Norm Sr. are killed on impact, leaving 11-year-old Norm Jr. alone with his father’s girlfriend. The tough life lessons imparted by his (questionable) father figures are ultimately Norm’s salvation.

The construction of the narrative, with the juxtaposition of events leading up to and following the crash–Norm’s day to day survival–with the plane crash.

While I didn’t find the writing even remotely “Hemingwayesque” as promised by the blurb on the jacket (or even good enough to hold my attention unless it was really sensational), I had some trouble picturing the mountain landscape. I liked the conclusion, with the perfect storm of coincidental and unexplainable events that lead to Norm’s rescue. Overall, this didn’t hold my attention like some of the other memoirs I’ve read recently (namely, Tattoo Machine and Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks) and it seems like it should have been riveting.

I can sense some teen appeal for those who might be into surfing or skiing, but it’s a little too much about to consider recommending it as a survival fiction read alike to say, Hatchet.

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