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Dad Said

Olestad, we can do i t all. . . .

Why do you make me do this?

Because it's beautiful when it all comes together.

I don't think it's ever beautiful.

One day.

Never.

We'll see, my father said. Vamanos.

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 eleven-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.

Topics: Sports

Published: HarperCollins on Jun 2, 2009
ISBN: 9780061886430
List price: $4.99
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This is a story of survival after a plane crash but more so a story of love and strength. It is the '70s, and "Little Norman" Ollestad is 11 years old and growing up on the ocean in California. His mom and dad are divorced, and he lives with his mom and her boyfriend Nick, but the story mostly revolves around the relationship between Little Norman and his dad, "Big Norman" Ollestad. Big Norman is a lawyer by day and a surfer/skier/all-around daredevil the rest of the time. He loves his sports and loves living on the edge and is trying to teach Little Norman the beauty of that way of life. At times, his "training" of Little Norm seems harsh, but in the end, it saves his life. This is an amazing book that I couldn't put down. Definitely one of the best memoirs I've ever read!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is a story of survival after a plane crash but more so a story of love and strength. It is the '70s, and "Little Norman" Ollestad is 11 years old and growing up on the ocean in California. His mom and dad are divorced, and he lives with his mom and her boyfriend Nick, but the story mostly revolves around the relationship between Little Norman and his dad, "Big Norman" Ollestad. Big Norman is a lawyer by day and a surfer/skier/all-around daredevil the rest of the time. He loves his sports and loves living on the edge and is trying to teach Little Norman the beauty of that way of life. At times, his "training" of Little Norm seems harsh, but in the end, it saves his life. This is an amazing book that I couldn't put down. Definitely one of the best memoirs I've ever read!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Little Norman Ollestad was raised on the beach in California, where his attorney dad spent every free minute surfing. Of course, Dad wants Norman learn to surf, too--and to ski! He doesn't seem to care that Norman is a timid little kid, who really doesn't want to be pushed into these activities. But push, he does.Perhaps it's a good thing, because when Norman is eleven, he is a passenger in a small plane that crashes into a California mountain. The skills he has learned from the grueling training his dad has put him through help keep him alive as he scales down the steep ice and snow covered incline during a huge storm. Amazingly he walks out, although hope had died that there were any survivors on the plane.The story is told in alternating chapters of Norman's life with his dad, and his perilous trek down the mountain. At first this felt awkward, but as we drew closer to the end, it seemed to work better, and the reader can understand why the author (little Norman himself) chose to tell his story in this manner.read more
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This is a story of survival after a plane crash but more so a story of love and strength. It is the '70s, and "Little Norman" Ollestad is 11 years old and growing up on the ocean in California. His mom and dad are divorced, and he lives with his mom and her boyfriend Nick, but the story mostly revolves around the relationship between Little Norman and his dad, "Big Norman" Ollestad. Big Norman is a lawyer by day and a surfer/skier/all-around daredevil the rest of the time. He loves his sports and loves living on the edge and is trying to teach Little Norman the beauty of that way of life. At times, his "training" of Little Norm seems harsh, but in the end, it saves his life. This is an amazing book that I couldn't put down. Definitely one of the best memoirs I've ever read!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is a story of survival after a plane crash but more so a story of love and strength. It is the '70s, and "Little Norman" Ollestad is 11 years old and growing up on the ocean in California. His mom and dad are divorced, and he lives with his mom and her boyfriend Nick, but the story mostly revolves around the relationship between Little Norman and his dad, "Big Norman" Ollestad. Big Norman is a lawyer by day and a surfer/skier/all-around daredevil the rest of the time. He loves his sports and loves living on the edge and is trying to teach Little Norman the beauty of that way of life. At times, his "training" of Little Norm seems harsh, but in the end, it saves his life. This is an amazing book that I couldn't put down. Definitely one of the best memoirs I've ever read!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Little Norman Ollestad was raised on the beach in California, where his attorney dad spent every free minute surfing. Of course, Dad wants Norman learn to surf, too--and to ski! He doesn't seem to care that Norman is a timid little kid, who really doesn't want to be pushed into these activities. But push, he does.Perhaps it's a good thing, because when Norman is eleven, he is a passenger in a small plane that crashes into a California mountain. The skills he has learned from the grueling training his dad has put him through help keep him alive as he scales down the steep ice and snow covered incline during a huge storm. Amazingly he walks out, although hope had died that there were any survivors on the plane.The story is told in alternating chapters of Norman's life with his dad, and his perilous trek down the mountain. At first this felt awkward, but as we drew closer to the end, it seemed to work better, and the reader can understand why the author (little Norman himself) chose to tell his story in this manner.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
When he was 11 years old, Norman Ollestad had become a true California jock-- he was a fantastic surfer, he'd shredded his skin skateboarding, had just won a state skiing championship, and was gearing up for a hockey team tournament. In between the ski championship and hockey practice, his father chartered a plane to get them from one place to the next-- but the plane crashed in the clouds of a California mountain. The pilot and Ollestad's father were killed, his dad's girlfriend survived just a short time longer. The memoir tells the story of not only the crash but the childhood pressures and adventures he faced, all of which led up to the crash. Ollested's father was driven to make his son the best, and adults (Ollestad is now nearing his mid-40s now) and teens alike will likely be surprised at the things the elder Ollested forced upon his son. The story is well written, alternating between flashbacks of his younger childhood and surviving the crash, and will appeal to anyone with interest in outdoor survival stories. The high school at which I am currently a librarian has Into the Wild in the curriculum, and this is certainly a book I'll recommend for anyone who liked that story. It certainly has appeal to high school and middle school students, although some more conservative individuals might balk at some of the drug references.
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Very good. Couldn't stop reading, professionally written in way that it becomes an easy page turner.It's very easy to relate to the themes of the book when you're a man, son and father.
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This book as been summarized well in other reviews. Although there was much that I admired about the story, including vivid descriptions and imagery, I mostly found it unpleasantly disturbing. I understand that he loved his father, and that his father taught him remarkable life skills. But his father was also hugely negligent and self-centered. Most of the problems for which his father prepared him were brought about by his father's own recklessness. I was also uncomfortable about his portrayal of his mother and his father's girlfriend. Did I really need to read descriptions of his mom having rough post-fight make-up sex?I know this is a book about fathers and sons (and father-figures), so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that his portrayal of his mother's troubled boyfriend is far more nuanced than anything he wrote about his mom. And while I was genuinely fascinated by his adventure with his own son, which was insightful and touching, I was put off that he made no mention of his son's mother. That is weird. It would have been far less weird if he had simply written, even parenthetically, that his son's mother has requested privacy, and that he is honoring that request. Or if that's not true, then just tell us whether she died, whether she abandoned them, or whether they have joint custody but she lives elsewhere. Instead, she simply doesn't exist, and that's a significant omission that bugs me.
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