Next Up: ‘This Boy’s Life’

This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff

  • Date began: Nov. 23, 2011
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Project: n/a
  • Reading List: Fall 2011
  • Got it: Another cheap-o at a book sale
  • Why I picked it up: I had been meaning to read This Boy’s Life, but I think when I picked it up I had Tom Wolfe and About a Boy all mixed up in my head. Maybe I wasn’t thinking, but I was a little surprised when I started reading a few days ago and realized the protagonist wasn’t British. But no matter!
  • Back of the book: In this unforgettable memoir of boyhood in the 1950s, we meet 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. Between themselves they develop an almost telepathic trust that sees them through their wanderings from Florida to a small town in Washington State. Fighting for identity and self respect against the unrelenting hostility of a new stepfather, T0by’s growing up is at once poignant and comical. 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.

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