This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff
A Memoir

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Synopsis

This unforgettable memoir, by one of our most gifted writers, introduces us to the young Toby Wolff, by turns tough and vulnerable, crafty and bumbling, and ultimately winning. Separated by divorce from his father and brother, Toby and his mother are constantly on the move, yet they develop an extraordinarily close, almost telepathic relationship. As Toby fights for identity and self-respect against the unrelenting hostility of a new stepfather, his experiences are at once poignant and comical, and Wolff does a masterful job of re-creating the frustrations and cruelties of adolescence. His various schemes - running away to Alaska, forging checks, and stealing cars - lead eventually to an act of outrageous self-invention that releases him into a new world of possibility.
 

About Tobias Wolff

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Tobias Wolff lives in Northern California and teaches at Stanford University. He has received the Rea Award for excellence in the short story, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the PEN/Faulkner Award.
 
Published December 1, 2007 by Grove Press. 308 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction, Westerns. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for This Boy's Life

Kirkus Reviews

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Wolff shifts to nonfiction in this jewel-like memoir of childhood in the 1950's.

Nov 02 2011 | Read Full Review of This Boy's Life: A Memoir

Publishers Weekly

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In PEN/Faulkner Award-winner Wolff's fourth book, he recounts his coming-of-age with customary skill and self-assurance. Seeking a better life in the Northwestern U.S. with his divorced mother, whose

Dec 01 1988 | Read Full Review of This Boy's Life: A Memoir

Publishers Weekly

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Wolff’s well-regarded 1989 chronicle of his difficult childhood and adolescence is already considered a contemporary classic, and an avatar—for better and for worse—of the current memoir frenzy.

Nov 29 2010 | Read Full Review of This Boy's Life: A Memoir

Entertainment Weekly

As Dwight, he mimics people with fey sarcasm, does his patented ''mean'' look (turning down the corners of his mouth in fury), and keeps telling Toby to ''shut your goddamned pie hole.'' We never do understand what drew Caroline to Dwight in the first place (Barkin just seems to drop out of t...

Apr 09 1993 | Read Full Review of This Boy's Life: A Memoir

Entertainment Weekly

In this bastardized video version of Tobias Wolff's tortured, affecting memoir, the lack of the large, wide-screen images reduces the emotional effects — the feelings of this film are on a big, primal scale.

Aug 27 1993 | Read Full Review of This Boy's Life: A Memoir

Deseret News

Based on the autobiographical book by Tobias Wolff, "This Boy's Life" is the story of Wolff's stormy adolescence, as he grew up in Seattle under the thumb of a tyrannical and violent stepfather, played with thunder by Robert De Niro.

Apr 27 1993 | Read Full Review of This Boy's Life: A Memoir

People

Barkin, with her hair dyed a tarnished blond and her broken-crockery face carefully powdered and lipsticked, is a woman who has gone as far as her sexiness and her brains will carry her.

Apr 26 1993 | Read Full Review of This Boy's Life: A Memoir

Ben Casnocha

I’m reading a lot of memoirs nowadays to get tips on how people write about their own lives — Wolff is among the best.

Apr 04 2006 | Read Full Review of This Boy's Life: A Memoir

Rolling Stone

When mother and son flee the house in disgust --- actually Caroline stayed behind for a few months, and Toby and Dwight reluctantly shook hands --- Dwight raises his fist at the sky like Johnny Boy on the rooftop in Mean Streets and delivers a Raging Bull soliloquy ("What about me?

Apr 09 1993 | Read Full Review of This Boy's Life: A Memoir

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