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review 2016-09-24 14:03
Erotic tale of competition between mother and daughter
French Girl with Mother: A Novel - Norman Ollestad

Nathan is a struggling artist who is able to paint a technically perfect reproduction of other artists’ work but he’s been unable to find the emotional element needed to create masterpieces of his own. Then he meets a young uninhibited French girl, Anais, who may be just the muse that he needs.  He feels there’s a dangerous element to a relationship with Anais but he can’t resist the pull to sketch her so he accepts her invitation to stay at her parents’ home.  Upon meeting and getting to know her parents, he’s drawn into a web of sexual competition and illegal acts.


I thought the first half of this book was so beautifully written. The author does an excellent job of letting the reader experience the acceleration of menace behind this dysfunctional family and concern for Nathan as he gets more and more deeply involved.  While I can’t say that I really liked any of the characters very much, even Nathan, I had to keep reading to see where it would all go.  I feel that the book loses some of its raw beauty in the second half of the book, which degenerates a bit into an art forgery thriller, though there is still the desire to know whether Nathan will choose love of his art or his love of Anais. 


This book was given to me by the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.

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review 2014-06-18 00:41
Excllent bio -70's surf culture, survival story, and a bond between father & son
Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival (P.S.) - Norman Ollestad

Opening Line: “February 19,1979. At seven that morning my dad, his girlfriend Sandra and I took off from Santa Monica Airport headed for the mountains of Big Bear.”

Set amid the wild uninhibited surf culture of Malibu and Mexico in the late 1970’s, Crazy For The Storm is a fascinating memoir that was hard to put down. It centers around 11 year old Norman Ollestad and the complicated relationship he had with his father. Demanding, charismatic and free-spirited, it is ultimately the thrill-seeking lifestyle and continual test of skills that Norman Senior puts his son through which are responsible for saving his life, when the chartered Cessna carrying them to a ski championship goes down in the California mountains killing everyone else on board.

This devastated 11 year old must then descend the treacherous icy mountain alone. Relying on tools subconsciously learned from an early age and with the voice of his father echoing in his ears “Go for it Boy Wonder. You can do it.”

“The fog undulated, as if breathing and it lifted off the snow for a moment. Fifteen feet across the slope the pilot’s shoes wandered in disparate directions. His legs twisted in the snow. The hem of his shirt folded back and his belly was pale. Am I still asleep?”

Now obviously if I’m reading his memoir then I know that Norman survives but there is still a huge element of suspense maintained throughout this story. The initial scenes with the plane crash are so riveting that at first I was super annoyed when the author decided to start alternating chapters back and forth between his life leading up to the crash and the hours directly after, I wanted to stay at the crash site. I’ll admit though I soon became equally engrossed in Norman’s unusual upbringing in Topanga beach, with its hippie culture, surfing lifestyle and his Mothers alcoholic and often violent boyfriend. Plus you never knew what adventure his father was going to drag him on next.

There are several chapters devoted to a road trip he took into Mexico to deliver a washing machine to his grandparents. With his father’s mantra “This is life Ollestead,” they end up broke, on the run from trigger happy Federales and finally hiding out in a village eating mangoes and surfing the perfect waves while they try to figure out how to get their car fixed.

His father may have been a charmer but he had dubious ideas when it came to parenting (the cover photo shows Norman at about a year old strapped to his father’s back while he surfs) He often placed his son in danger to challenge him and Norman both resented and idolized him and in my opinion was more than a little afraid of him.

While the writing is fantastic it does tend to get a little technical with the skiing and snow terms and I had a hard time visualizing the crash site (the slope -a curtain of ice) so that I never really had a clear picture of what he was facing. From what I understand it does however contain some very good “surf writing”.

I’m a real fan of true-life survival stories but this turned out to be more than a tale of adventure. Powerful and unforgettable, at its heart this is the story about the complex bond between fathers and sons, nurturing and teaching and what we pass on to our children. Leaving me close to tears at the end as we watch a grown Norman teach his own son how to ski and face his fears. Cheers

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review 2010-07-30 00:00
Crazy for the Storm - Norman Ollestad Moving memoir of a man who survived the plane crash that killed his adventurous father. Great summer read.
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review 2009-09-13 00:00
Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival
Crazy for the Storm - Norman Ollestad Men have it rough in our world, and boys have it even rougher. Norman Ollestad tells the story of the tough time he had growing up with a demanding father and a demanding stepfather. The trials he suffered as a boy served him well when he had to find a way to survive after a plane crash. I liked this book but I think men would find it even more captivating. It seems to be a rare book these days, a coming-of-age memoir of a boy.
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review 2009-03-11 00:00
Crazy for the Storm - Norman Ollestad In this fast, engaging tale Norman Ollestad tells about how he survived a mountaintop plane crash as an 11-year-old, a crash that killed the pilot, his father and his father’s girlfriend, and how his relationship with his father, and the skills he had learned under his tutelage, had prepared him for his near-death ordeal.

Ollestad tells of his upbringing, of his charismatic surfer/lawyer/coach father who drove him to peaks of physical performance he would never have reached un-pushed, and who brought him to joys he might never otherwise have enjoyed. He gives us a picture of growing up on the beach in Malibu, traveling in a very dangerous Mexico with his father, having to cope with the divorce of his parents and the conflict inherent in managing relationships with his parents’ new others’, and discovering newborn sexual feelings. And for good measure there is a sort-of car chase, gunshots, and ruminations on god.

Once I started reading this book, I hated to put it down. It is a fast read, a page-turner. I quite enjoyed it.
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