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Ollie: The True Story of a Brief and Courageous Life Paperback – 4 Jan 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (4 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009947879X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099478799
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 767,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"A gripping, humbling account... This is a story of great courage, love, and extraordinary selflessness but most of all it is a celebration of the existence of a bright, lively, brave little boy" (Daily Mail)

"An uplifting tribute to a remarkable child" (Daily Express)

"Ollie is not a bleak book. There are episodes of exuberant joy... More compelling than a climbing narrative" (Independent)

Book Description

The exceptionally moving, brilliantly written story of the brief, courageous life of Ollie, the autistic son of one of Britain's most successful mountaineers, and of his effect on all who knew him.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jim Wickwire on 17 May 2006
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Venables, one of the world's most respected mountaineers and a prize-winning author, has written his most compelling book. It is the extraordinary account of his young son Ollie's ten year long struggle to overcome severe autism, leukaemia and the brain tumor that eventually took his life at age 12. Autism-now referred to in the medical literature as Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) because of the wide range in severity of symptoms and distinct subtypes-can strike any family. Ollie's case proved to be exceptionally difficult because of the two forms of cancer that he also battled, always with great courage and almost completely devoid of complaint.

Beyond the great value of adding to our knowledge about one family's encounter with this perplexing disease, anyone who has lost a child or a grandchild-as my wife and I have-can take solace from the story of this remarkable, courageous, lovely boy. Though I previously knew about the unbearably sad outcome, I was not prepared for the tears that streamed down my cheeks when I read the penultimate chapter. In the end, Stephen Venables has graced all of us with this wonderful tribute, not only to Ollie's life and memory, but also to his magnificent wife Rosie who was unrelenting in her 24/7 campaign to make a better life for her son.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Mar. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Venables, Ollie’s father and author of this book, is one of Britain's leading mountaineers, who lost several toes when he became the first Briton to climb Everest without oxygen in 1988, and subsequently severely damaged both legs high on Panch Chuli V. Ollie is the story of how the author's climbing exploits proved no match for the extraordinary journey he ended up taking with his wife Rosie in bringing up their first-born son,who became severely autistic at the age of two, subsequently developed leukaemia and ultimately died, aged 12, of a brain tumour in 2003. Throughout, both parents did their best to give their second son, Edmond, as normal a life as possible.
Ollie is a moving, brutally honest, but sometimes painfully funny book about the author’s struggle to juggle life as a corporate speaker, writer and mountaineer with a home life dictated by 24/7 care for Ollie and the incessant quest for solutions to his son's intractable medical and social problems, which required diligent application of Lesson 8 from The Eleven Lives of Robert McNamara: Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning. Stephen and Rosie scoured the globe for different ways to enhance their son’s life. From the Lovass Method to the Son Rise Method, they tried everything, but when for one reason or another circumstances changed, they moved on, together with an army of volunteers, well-wishers, family and friends. At times they were, no doubt, the parents from hell, as the author claims, but who would not have been in dealing with the heartache faced by so many in looking after disabled children?
"Like the swallows, our son Ollie came in the spring and left in the autumn" .......this poignant line sets the tone of this remarkable book about a remarkable little boy who effectively climbed his own Everest.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Frustrated on 2 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback
I ordered 'Ollie' through the local bookstore and finally had it delivered to me last week. Picked it up and devoured it until late last night, 2 am when I finished the epic tale. I was lying on the sofa in the living room (good thing, so my wife couldn't hear me crying). Veneables writes beautifully and Ollie's story is poignantly told without at all being sentimental or cloying. It is humbling to know what Stephen Venables and his family have all been through, a twelve-year family expedition that completely overshadows any mountain climb. He deserves all the accolades for this wonderful work of literature written from the heart. Well done!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Mar. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Ollie: the inspiring story of a special child is about a boy who was diagnosed as autistic at two, found to have leukaemia a couple of years later, and who, after years of remission, was then found to have a fatal brain tumour, and who died aged 12 in October 2003. Stephen and Rosie have a huge capacity for joy (as well as - obviously - for sorrow), an enormous gift for laughter.
I've just finished reading it, and found it profoundly moving, harrowing, uplifting, at times laugh-out-loud funny, inspiring, humbling. Nothing faintly special-needs worthy; it may be the best thing Stephen has ever written; he's won all sorts of prizes for various of his mountaineering books).
Ollie dances his way through the pages of the book, showing us all that autism and special needs do not mean doom and gloom every day of the week. Stephen is heart-breakingly frank about the effects of autism, illness, allergy and exhaustion on everyone else in the family.
It is essential reading for everyone involved in the care of children with autism, with leukaemia and other cancers, for parents seeking inspiration in solving the particular difficulties they may be facing in bringing up their children, and for the many people who have heard Stephen lecture, or who have read his books. This one shows the humanity of the man like no other.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Caroline Drummond on 14 April 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is an absorbing read, deserving a far wider audience than just those who have cared for somone with autism or cancer.It is beautifully written and un-put-downable. The author is completely honest and open about life with Ollie and though it is impossible not to shed a tear it is ultimately a celebration which leaves the reader feeling uplifted by such courage and love.
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