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.
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
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....
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.
Nice book but not all I was hoping for. The author was obviously not a professional writer so the book has a lot of weak spots.
The first 2/3's of the book moved between memories of writers father and escaping the airplane crash that killed him. These are the best parts. The last third was how he lived with his father's death for the next half year or so. This part doesn't really go anywhere and has a lame ending.
This book is not really an adventure or survival book but more a tribute to a man's love of his father and his memory. We would have all loved a father like him.
Aside from Norm Ollestad's monotone delivery of this audio book the subject matter is quite interesting. I am surprised that he lived through most of his dad's antics and predicaments!!
I learned about parenting. Norman and his father had a special relationship with far teaching consequences. wonderful story and reading.
I love survival books.
Easy to listen & follow. Good reader; I always enjoy an author reading their own work. I like the dove-tale of the 2 stories. And especially appreciate how he weaves a singular thread through 3 generations. Fascinated by his recall for details from an event almost 30 years prior.
Not a great book. In comparison to other great survival stories the plane crash did very little live up to any epic event. I found the rest of the book monotonous and barely entertaining. The author’s writing style is simple and very formulaic. His monotone deliver became annoying.
It was really neat having the author read his own book (plus he's good at it). The book is well written and has the scent of fiction, with the added bonus that it is a true story. It is a little hard to believe that an eleven year old has such vivid memories (I can't remember much of anything from when I was in the fifth grade), but I believed it. Great book!
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