Skip to main content
PBS logo

Book Review of This Boy's Life: A Memoir

This Boy's Life: A Memoir
demiducky25 avatar reviewed on + 161 more book reviews

This book tells the story of Toby Wolff, who calls himself Jack throughout the story due to an incident involving a girl named Toby in his class. He decides that since he and his mom are traveling across the country to start a new life together, he might as well start over with a new name. Wolff details what life was like living with a young, pretty mother who doesn't seem to want to settle down, though when she does settle into relationships, they are usually abusive in nature, either mentally or physically. Wolff paints his adolescent and teen years rather vividly, and shows the confusion that he faced in who he felt he was versus who everyone else saw when they looked at him versus who he wanted the world to see. For much of this time, Wolff is a very troubled young man and constantly seemed to get into trouble (attempts to run away, stealing, forging various documents to fit his needs, etc). I had a hard time liking Wolff for some of the things that he did, particularly when he fell in with bad company, but it was evident that he really cared for his mother and wanted to help protect her whenever he could. Still, it was an interesting and rather quick read.