Norman Ollestad grew up on the beaches of Topanga Beach in California. His father, also Norman, or Senior Ollestad, taught him how to surf and ski at a very young age and expected him to excel in both. Much to Norman’s horror, his father would take him off trail downhill skiing the were quite dangerous. No matter how many time he pleaded with his father not to take him on the treacherous hills and the largest waves, his father made him do it. Norman didn’t have much choice and he did like making his father proud.
The memoir is told in alternating chapters, one chapter about his life growing up in a broken family and his adventures with his dad and then a chapter about the horrific plane crash he was in with his father and his father’s girl friend Sandra.
Norman’s parents divorced when he was quite young and he lived with his mom and her boyfriend, Nick. Nick was an alcoholic and was physically and mentally abusive to both Norman and his mother. His mother usually chose Nick over the well being of her son, despite his abuse.
Norman really wanted to be a “normal” kid, with normal parents. He didn’t get to play with other kids very often because his father brought him all over to either practice or compete in sports. He was glad to be away from Nick during those times but also terrified of what hill or wave his father would make him concur next.
This book read very much like a novel. Norman Ollestad has a great talent for writing and I had trouble putting this book down. I do question how true some of his memories are. Many sounded exaggerated to me. I’m not convinced that Ollestad did this intentionally but maybe his memories of the events were bigger than the actual events. After all, he was only 11 years old when he was in the plane crash.
If you like memoirs or even adventure fiction, you are sure to enjoy this compelling book!
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