This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I don't know if I've been specifically targeting good reads subconsciously or if I've just been lucky that they're falling into my lap. Regardless, the kinda funny, a little sad, quite insightful This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff struck the old chord with me and continued that trend. Long may it last!
As a somewhat rudderless boy myself I enjoyed this story of a somewhat rudderless boy growing up with only a transient mother and the occasional uncaring, abusive stepfather. This is a fairly typical coming-of-age tale, which in this case includes vignettes on getting into fights, making and breaking friendships, girls and their potential for a horny young man, trying to be cool, cars, guns, etc and then some.
Published in '89, this feels a whole lot older. Probably because it mostly describes things that happened in the late '50s and early 60s. It reminds me a bit of A Christmas Story in that way, just more morbid. Perhaps likening it the tv show "The Wonder Years" would be more to the mark. Yes, just think of the young Tobias as a more real, less Hollywood-chipper Kevin Arnold.
Wolff's prose is a joy to read. Every once in a while he lays down a sweet-ass line that makes ya go "hmmm". *does the Arsenio move* There were times when I got quite lost in his words. However, this is a particularly intimate memoir and there are a few intense moments that draw you right into the scene, making you hold your breath and possibly pray for a positive outcome. That's quality writing.
While I doubt this will be a five star book for everyone, Wolfe's writing style and the stories he told were utterly relatable in my mind. The book felt familiar to me and some of the aspects of my own coming-of-age story. However, even readers who can't relate personally to the content should still be able to derive a good deal of enjoyment from it.
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