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This Boy's Life

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  17,522 ratings  ·  954 reviews
Toby ist zehn und muß mit seiner Mutter Rosemary, die immer Pech mit ihren Männern hat, wieder einmal vor einem gewalttätigen Liebhaber fliehen. Doch damit beginnen die turbulenten Zeiten erst recht. Einfühlsam erzählt Tobias Wolff von einer Jugend voller verstörender Gegensätze - einer Jugend voller Haß und Liebe, Betrug und Aufrichtigkeit, Verzweiflung und Hoffnung.
Kindle Edition, 1st Grove Press Ed edition, 304 pages
Published November 30th 1998 by Grove Press (first published 1982)
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James (JD) Dittes She is set up with Dwight by Marian, one of the women she and Jack share the run-down Seattle house with. She never appears interested in him--and she…moreShe is set up with Dwight by Marian, one of the women she and Jack share the run-down Seattle house with. She never appears interested in him--and she laughs at Jack's imitations of Dwight--but she sticks with Dwight for Jack's sake, hoping that a step-father can bring discipline into her son's life.(less)
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Part of moving from being a teenager to a functional adult is seeking your own identity outside of what friends and family think of you. Tobias Wolff’s struggle with this is in part what makes this book such a great read. Although he grew up in 1950’s Washington state and his life experiences are somewhat different from mine, it’s the core of feelings of being a teenager that never change and are the same no matter what your circumstances.

Part of what makes Wolff’s struggle that much harder is t
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

I read this book almost two months ago and have struggled to come up with some kind (any kind) of review. Sometimes when I read a memoir I’m struck with the question “what made this person think their personal history was novel worthy?” Such is the case with This Boy’s Life. Sure Tobias Wolf had a shitty childhood, but when compared to other autobiographies (Night stands out as the most monumental personal history I can think of, or ev
Dec 04, 2013 Malbadeen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sarah
Recommended to Malbadeen by: Sarah's couch
Shelves: memoir-ish
I can't very well articulate why this book elicited a 5 star response from me, which is why I enjoyed it so much. Despite not being able to put my finger on it, I found myself wanting to get back to it all the time.
Not a reaction I typically have to memoirs by established authors.
He spoke in away that maintained the feel of adolescence without condescending hindsight or grandiose naivety. The writing seems so simple and concise and yet there were numerous times when I had to fight my urge to und
Ruth Turner


I read just over half before calling it quits.

Toby’s life really wasn’t as bad as I expected. Whether or not that’s because of the way he tells his story, I’m not sure. It was flat and lacked feeling; very matter-of-fact.

The narrative itself seemed endless. It’s dreary, slow and boring. It also jumps around at times, enough to be confusing.

All this was bad enough, but I soldiered valiantly onwards...until it came to Toby beating the family dog with a floor mop. A hunting dog that hid in fear
I read This Boy's Life in one day. It is that rare kind of memoir page-turner that compels not because of blood and gore, or because you have to see what the insane parents are going to do next, but because of the writer's voice itself. This is a boy you just want to listen to. He is so genuine and honest that even while throwing rocks through windows, forging checks, and lying to himself and everyone around him, I found him unbearably sweet and vulnerable.

"Her name was Alice. My class
Tobias Wolff was a professor at Stanford. He was my friend Laurel's Italian partner. His friends called him Toby. He scared the bejesus outta me. This is technically unfair, as I never once spoke to him or took one of his classes. I think it was the mustache that did it. It was a very intimidating mustache.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with the book, which I loved. I just thought you'd like to know.
This memoir would be overwhelmingly sad for me, had I not already read Old School by the same author and know that he becomes a successful author and teacher of literature at Stanford. But if you didn’t know that this child redeems himself in the end, this would be sad, a sad tale indeed.

Tobias’ parents divorced when he was a young boy, and his mother set off looking for a better life, leaving her oldest son with her ex-husband. In 1955 it was hard for a single mother, and life treated Tobias’
Tobias Wolff is a man known to those who love short stories as something of a master of the form. His novel, Old School failed to capitalize on his brilliance of the short form, so I must admit to some qualms about his memoir. I couldn't have been more wrong. Wolff analyses his upbringing with the clarity of an outsider, giving us insight into his deeds and (more frequently) misdeeds. From constant travels with his single mother escaping a bad relationship to an abusive step father, from mocking ...more
This is a very emotional and touching tale about a young boy growing up with a hopeless mother and an abusive step-father. The author describes his childhood in ways that almost anyone can relate to. While you can feel the angst of the writer's plight, you can also laugh you tits off at the hilarity he chooses to make out of it in his later and wiser years. It's impressive that this juvenile delinquent turned out to be such a famous writer. This novel was not only well written, it was a funny an ...more
Aaron Devine
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emer Martin
I was struck reading other reviews of this book that many stated that it read so well it could have been a novel and not a memoir. What struck me also was that he chose some incidents that showed him in an awful light, beating a poor frightened dog with a mop, being one of them. However, Wolff is such a good writer I didn't care how many dogs he beat. The voice in the book carried me through the relative mundane, rainy, overcast world of a grim childhood in the gloom of Washington State. The loc ...more
So, yeah. This one's a lot like The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls in that it follows a child as he gets bounced around the country. Wolff, however, managed to write a far better book.

The story's like this:
A boy and his mother flee the man in their lives only to find other men who may be even worse. Young Tobias moves a lot, with or without his mother, depending on the situation. He finds a strange friend, almost moves to France, steals some things, and forges his way into prep school. The who
Wow, I loved this one. I had been familiar with a few of Wolff's short stories (Bullet in the Brain is one of my all time favorites) but this is the first of his longer works that I had read. I felt it described the awkwardness, anxiety and tragic passivity of boyhood perfectly. I reltated to it on so many levels even though I grew up in a different place and time and had a completely different personality than the main character of the book.

It is a dark book, however. Which is something I might
Nomadic SA Chick's Book Reviews

Toby Wolff was just a boy when he and his mother left Florida for Utah in search of plutonium riches. By this point Toby insists on being called Jack because of his love of the author Jack London. This starts his story of a turbulent childhood, of his mothers cycle of bad boyfriends, and new starts. Once her mother meets and marries Dwight, Jack's life changes, and not for the best.

This book was outstanding and worthy of all the feels. Wolff is a skill
Monty J Heying
To write a memoir is to sift through and make sense one's personal experience that were laid down in our heads when we were much younger, then arrange them into a compelling and comprehensible story. Reframing is necessary because the writer has matured. The eyes behind the pen are not the eyes that witnessed what is being written. This book is a mature and evolved retrospective about coming of age in the American 1950-60s.

It's a good book that I appreciated more fully after I saw the movie (Rob
One of my favorite memoirs of all time. IT was perfect in its pacing, its pitch. It was a beautiful, but unsentimental look at youth, poverty, family, and all the cracks and fissures that the world creates to swallow the dreams of youth. Wolff's language still rings with me. I find myself, going back and reading whole passages of 'This Boy's Life' just to drink the language and the rub against the energy and charge of Wolff's vitality. A good memoirist gets the reader to experience the artist's ...more
Having just finished The Night in Question, I was looking forward to reading this. Though a memoir (not my usual choice) that is based on Wolff's childhood as opposed to a collection of short stories, I still had high hopes.

It was okay. The writing was strong and the author consistently provided lots of interesting insight about life in general, however, I just never really got into the story. The character I found most intriguing, his mother, a complex dichotomy whom Wolff describes as strong a
In a time when conversations about creative nonfiction are preoccupied by concerns of truth in memoir, the nature of consciousness, identity, and fragmentation, it can be easy to forget about fundamentals like story. Important in and of themselves, these big conversations signal that a necessary codification of the genre has emerged and continues to grow.

But the meta conversations can get tedious, grandiose, even absurd, and sometimes we need to remember that readers come for the story and stay
The book "This Boy's Life," by Tobias Wolff was written through author's lens in which included his memoir. This novel tells about a mother and son moving from place to place looking for a settlement. Caroline Wolff, the mother, wants to find a best place for his son, Toby. They moved to Seattle and met Dwight Hansen who Caroline thought would be best for Toby therefore they married. However everything wasn't like how Caroline thought due to Dwight Hansen's abusive attitute toward toby through p ...more
Wolff’s memoir of his nomadic, fatherless childhood searching for an identity and a future is hypnotically engaging. In search of wealth and the right man, his divorced mother moved Toby, who renamed himself Jack, from Florida to Utah to Washington State, where she married Dwight, definitely the wrong man, especially for Jack. "I was bound to accept as my home a place I did not feel at home in,” he writes, “and to take as my father a man who was offended by my existence and would never stop ques ...more
This book is a memoir that involves a young boy, Toby(Jack)Wolff and his personal experience living life on the run. Jack and hisi mother is contantly moving after the separation with Jack's father. The story starts with Jack and his mother moving to Utah to make their fortune by mining Uranium. Jack was very close to his mother, who had a abusive childhod. His mom contantly involve herself with violent and abusive men. As a result, Jack is constantly seeking refuge in his imagination and lies. ...more
Connor Quinn
I had mixed feelings about this book. On the positive side I think that some parts of the story was relatable and others not so much. One of the things that I did not like about this book is some of the chapters are long and I personally like short chapters. Another thing I did not like about this book is there where no cliffhangers at the end of the chapters so at the end of a chapter I had no motivation to read the next one. One thing that a lot of the books review say is that he has a really ...more
Before I read This Boy’s Life, I’ve honestly never heard of Tobias Wolff. However after reading his memoir, it seems I may know more about his childhood then many of my close friends and even my family perhaps. His memoir is a well-detailed account of his childhood. I can’t fathom how he remembered so much of his life. I guess when you go through such pain as Wolff did, it may be hard to not to remember.

It was hard getting into This Boy’s Life, the story seemed to drag on at some points in the
Landon Theriault
This Boy’s Life is a novel that will keep you wondering. There will be highs, and there will be lows. Dive into this boy's life with a vision of happiness, but what you will find out, happiness is not what you will come across. When Toby first meets his mother's boyfriend Dwight, he seemed alright. He gave Toby the gun he wanted. Dwight is not exactly who you think he is. Toby has a tough life, never having a steady home, and moving his whole life. You will soon start to find out that Toby is a ...more
Connor Donigian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Exquisitely written, desperately honest memoir that was incredibly difficult to read. I had to keep walking away, but I kept coming back for more. I am coming away from this wanting to read every word Wolff ever wrote, right away. He's so penetratingly analytical, so able to distance himself from his adolescent pretensions without disavowing the, so incisive and so true. He broke my heart, over and over and over. The prose is knife-like, crystalline and icy. I recommend it.
Rumit Patel
BEWARE! This book can be dangerous for you. In this book, you might see yourself in this book as this character, or you might see someone else who you might know or are very close to. If you come prepared to learn about the horrors of a boy’s life and the things that he did that he might have regretted. This Boy’s Life is about how this boy’s life went along as he was going through his childhood being the worst person possible. What I like about this book is the honesty of the author and what I ...more
In this recounting of his youth, Wolff is utterly uninterested in coming off any better than he deserves, offering us a clear-eyed portrayal of his younger self from a distance. While this does remove some potential immediacy from the prose, with the narrative weighted somewhat more toward the wisdom of age the reader would have been able to bring anyway, it's almost a good thing it does as some of these scenes might almost have been too visceral otherwise; even as it is, there are some moments ...more
Calli Cole
I read This Boy’s Life, I absolutely hated it. It starts off with toby and his mom running away from someone. Then it goes back before they ran off,then to the present. I couldn’t focus on it going back and forth the way that it did every other page. I personally thought that it was very hard to follow, and keep track of. Toby and Dwight (mom’s boyfriend) would always but head with each other. All the conflict just happens so quickly I can’t comprehend it as fast as the book is going. Tobias Wol ...more
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Fake book! 4 164 Jul 02, 2014 10:06AM  
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Tobias Jonathan Ansell Wolff is a writer of fiction and nonfiction.

He is best known for his short stories and his memoirs, although he has written two novels.

Wolff is the Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, where he has taught classes in English and creative writing since 1997. He also served as the director of the Creative Writ
More about Tobias Wolff...

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“Fearlessness in those without power is maddening to those who have it.” 72 likes
“Knowing that everything comes to an end is a gift of experience, a consolation gift for knowing that we ourselves are coming to an end. Before we get it we live in a continuous present, and imagine the future as more of that present. Happiness is endless happiness, innocent of its own sure passing. Pain is endless pain.” 29 likes
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