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I was originally drawn to Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival by Norman Ollestad because it was a story about an 11 year old boy who beat incredible odds to survive a plane crash in the mountains.
He was the only survivor.
While I thought the book would be mainly about Ollestad’s crash and survival, it was actually about much more and left me thinking about parent/child relationships for quite some time.
Ollestad is just a few years older than me, but his formative years were much different than mine. His father, Norman Ollestad, Sr., was an actor as a child and played baseball, but all he wanted to do was surf and ski. When he had his son, Norman, Jr., he started him early on the sports he loved. In fact, little Norman, as he’s called in the book, went surfing with his father when he was just a baby. His father strapped him onto his back. Little Norman also had skied black diamond runs when he was four years old.
Little Norman’s parents divorced early in his life, so his life was chaotic. He spent his time with his mom and her live-in boyfriend, Nick, as well as his dad. Nick was an alcoholic who was verbally and physically rough with little Norman and he beat Norman’s mom up on at least one occasion. Little Norman’s dad, on the other hand, constantly pushed him so that by the time he was 10 and 11, he was winning ski championships.
In fact, Norman Sr. chartered the plane that ultimately lead to his demise so he could take little Norman back to the mountains to get the trophy he had earned the night before in a ski championship.
The plane was doomed from the beginning, as little Norman discovers when he’s an adult.
While this book is a fascinating story, it’s not just because of the survival story. It’s because Norman survived not only an airplane crash but his childhood. And he not only survived, but thrived.
5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.
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