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This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff
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This Boy's Life (1989)

by Tobias Wolff

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» See also 108 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
I was a little surprised by the vastness of this memoir. I kept expecting this climatic moment in his life where all the ironies came full circle, but I was mostly let down. As a reader I wanted to be rewarded for my efforts of committing to these stories by feeling like the journey was worth the lesson, but there was no such moment. Instead of a compact coming of age story in unfortunate circumstances, the book feels more like cathartic rambling. It was humorous and entertaining, but not a book I will feel like reading a second time any time soon. ( )
  vwarren_UNO | Apr 15, 2018 |
This Boy's Life is author Tobias Wolff's coming-of-age memoir. After his parents divorced, Wolff remained with his mother while his older brother lived with their father. There was almost always an abusive man in his mother's life. She wasn't the only one who suffered from the abuse. Tobias (who preferred the name “Jack”) suffered, too. With little parental supervision, Wolff unfailingly hooked up with the wrong crowd with every move. Deceit became second nature to Wolff. He lied, stole, and engaged in other delinquent behavior, likely for self-preservation. While I was moved by Wolff's circumstances, I also couldn't help wondering how deeply ingrained these habits are in Wolff's character. Might he be an unreliable narrator of his own life story? ( )
  cbl_tn | Apr 14, 2018 |
I'm surprised by the relatively low score this memoir has received. I found it very honest and funny. Maybe I could relate to Jack more than other readers, or at least sympathize more? Also possible that I've always enjoyed the bildungsroman genre, too. It isn't Portrait of an Artist, but for a kid from a town called Concrete, it is a pretty good effort! ( )
1 vote ProfH | Feb 25, 2018 |
This novel is a memoir, so it’s a true reflection of Tobias Wolff’s coming of age.

Toby has a dynamic life--one that moves him about, allowing him to live without rules and choosing his own standards. Toby’s father and brother went one way and Toby and his mother went another when they divorced. Unfortunately, Toby’s mother has trouble picking good men and getting well paying jobs. One man is abusive; they have to leave more than once to escape him. Toby also has a gun. Toby isn’t a kid that should have a gun.. He spends his afternoons alone with the gun “pretending” to shoot people walking down the road.

Much of the memoir takes place in Seattle where Toby’s mother gets a better job and rooms with other women. It’s determined that she should marry one of the men she’s met. How he acts with her and how he acts with Toby are completely different. He has children as well, so Toby finds it interesting to live with siblings again. They already know what to expect from their father and do little to help Toby when he comes to live at the house, which is in the middle of nowhere. His mother moves there later because Toby says all is fine instead of telling the truth.

I think this is a great memoir for teen boys or anyone who likes to push boundaries. Toby lies, manipulates, and breaks the law, which I cannot relate to. Furthermore, I can’t read his choices and justify his behavior because I have always been a pleaser and rule follower. I couldn’t decide how much his mother really knew him--did she just overlook his behavior thinking he would make better choices later? Did she not know what to do because she continually chose bad men? I don’t know. I should mention that the language is mature. ( )
  acargile | Dec 3, 2017 |
Toby tells the story of his life with a mother on the move and having his mother and stepfather abusive alcoholics. He very easily could have gone down a different path in life and this book may never have been written.... ( )
  camplakejewel | Sep 16, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tobias Wolffprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wyman, OliverNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
"The first duty in life is to assume a pose. What the second is, no one has yet discovered." -Oscar Wilde
"He who fears corruption fears life." -- Saul Alinsky
Dedication
My stepfather, Dwight, always said that what I didn't know could fill a book. Well, here it is.
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Our car boiled over again just after my mother and I crossed the Continental Divide.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802136680, Paperback)

Fiction writer Tobias Wolff electrified critics with his scarifying 1989 memoir, which many deemed as notable for its artful structure and finely wrought prose as for the events it describes. The story is pretty grim: Teenaged Wolff moves with his divorced mother from Florida to Utah to Washington State to escape her violent boyfriend. When she remarries, Wolff finds himself in a bitter battle of wills with his abusive stepfather, a contest in which the two prove to be more evenly matched than might have been supposed. Deception, disguise, and illusion are the weapons the young man learns to employ as he grows up--not bad training for a writer-to-be. Somber though this tale of family strife is, it is also darkly funny and so artistically satisfying that most readers come away exhilarated rather than depressed.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:33 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

This unforgettable, bestselling memoir by a gifted writer introduces the young Toby Wolff, by turns tough and vulnerable, crafty and bumbling, and ultimately winning. A "New York Times" Notable Book of the Year.

» see all 5 descriptions

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HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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HighBridge

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

» Publisher information page

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