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Editorial Reviews

Ollestad's memoir opens with his recollection of being in a plane crash in California's Sierra Madre mountains at the age of 11. With the others in the plane dead, including his father, Ollestad had to find his way down from the stormy, icy mountains alone. The author speaks in a voice jerky and unsure of itself, portraying himself as the whiny boy he once was, but without imitating him. In humble sentences and abrupt dialogue he recounts the profound emotional lessons gleaned from enviable, yet infuriating, bonding experiences with his dad. Ollestad re-creates the characters who molded his youth, narrating in but a single voice, but crafting ardent personalities with inflection and rhythm.
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Publisher's Summary

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. While his friends were riding bikes, playing ball, and going to birthday parties, young Norman was whisked away in pursuit of wild and demanding adventures. Yet it were these exhilarating tests of skill that prepared "Boy Wonder," as his father called him, to become a fearless champion - and ultimately saved his life. Flying to a ski championship ceremony in February 1979, the chartered Cessna carrying Norman, his father, his father's girlfriend, and the pilot crashed into the San Gabriel Mountains and was suspended at 8,200 feet, engulfed in a blizzard. "Dad and I were a team, and he was Superman," Ollestad writes. But now Norman's father was dead, and the devastated 11-year-old had to descend the treacherous, icy mountain alone.
Set amid the spontaneous, uninhibited surf culture of Malibu and Mexico in the late 1970s, this riveting memoir, written in crisp Hemingwayesque prose, recalls Ollestad's childhood and the magnetic man whose determination and love infuriated and inspired him - and also taught him to overcome the indomitable. As it illuminates the complicated bond between an extraordinary father and his son, Ollestad's powerful and unforgettable true story offers remarkable insight for us all
©2009 Norman Ollestad (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Elizabeth on 06-20-09


Muscular writing, great narration, and a tale that stands up to the best in suspense fiction. I stayed up half the night listening to this memoir, which is part coming-of-age story and part homage to 1970s Los Angeles beach culture. More than anything, however, the book is a tribute to the author's larger-than-life father, who died in the same plane crash that his 11-year-old son was able to survive by applying the lessons his father had drilled into him from birth. Ollestad does an impressive job of conjuring the free-wheeling surf-and-sex beach culture of his formative years. Equally cool is the way he organizes this remarkable story, which weaves back and forth between memories of his childhood and his harrowing experiences on the icy mountaintop where the plane crashed, killing everyone but the author. For nail-biting suspense combined with a child's-eye view of what it's like to grow up with magical but flawed parents, I can't recommend this one highly enough....

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By thawstone on 12-26-09

Crazy For This Book

Because this book is mainly about a boy and his father, women might not find it quite as entertaining as myself. However, I must confess I found Tom Wolfe's "I Am Charlotte Simmons", about a girl, thoroghly entertaining. Although the story revolves around a plane crash, the adventerous stories of Norman's life leading up to the fateful moment, especially the trip to Mexico, maintain a high level of interest.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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