This Boy's Life, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


The author of "The Barracks Thief" and "Hunters in the Snow" recreates his boyhood experiences, relating how he and his mother travelled throughout the United States, and tracing his experiences and changes from young boy to manhood against the background of a violent and wildly optimistic America.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Autobiography: general
  • ISBN: 9780747546016



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Toby Wolff's own story as a young boy is one of a series of misfortunes that he is forced to overcome. I have little doubt this story would appeal to teenage boys as it is one adventure right after another. I was really disappointed by the ending, which is why I rated this so low. I kept expecting his story to have a redemptive quality but alas it never materialized...perhaps that is in a sequel?

Review by

Year is 1955. Toby runs away with his mother. Toby resents his name because he once met a girl having it. And what a nightmare it is to have a girly name. He changes it to Jack. They go luck hunting to Utah. Stepfather finds them and makes their life miserable. They flee. End up in Washington. But mother cannot escape abusive men. A middle-aged man, cautious at first, manages to convince her into marrying him. When they move to his house, to live with his 3 kids, hell brakes loose again. And Jack gets into trouble constantly. He's clever and courageous but fucks up way too often. His morale is low. School is hard. The town's society is medieval. Adults know only two ways to put loose kids on track. Religion and Abuse, moral and physical.This book is like Bukowski's Ham on Rye, 20 years down the road. Semi-autobiographical and on the same literaly level. Just like Henry Chinaski, Bukowski's childhood self, Toby (Jack) Wolff feels like a loser, acts like a loser and suffers like one. But somehow he makes it. An excellent sketch of rural America and a deep probe into a teenager's soul.

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