Tobias Wolff, author of This Boy’s Life, was born on June 19, 1945 in Alabama. He grew up in a very academic-focused household as his father was an aerospace engineer. As a teenager, he ran the local newspaper route and served as a Boy Scout for several years. After graduating from Concrete High School, he attended The Hill School by forging transcripts and teacher recommendations. However, Wolff was eventually caught by administrators and expelled. He later enrolled at Herfort College at Oxford and received his graduate degree from Stanford University.
This Boy’s Life is a memoir that details Tobias Wolff’s life in the 1950s traveling across the country with his mother to mine uranium. They naively believe that this will provide them with a fortune to live off of for the rest of their lives. Due to their constant travels together, Tobias and his mother share a deeply intimate relationship that is closer than the typical mother-son bond. Toby’s mother suffered an abusive childhood and therefore spends time with a seemingly endless amount of violent lovers. Wolff relates these childhood experiences and how it strengthened him as a teenager and adult.
Upon its publication, This Boy’s Life received rave reviews from audiences and critics for its provocative story and touching life lessons. Because of its positive reception, it was ultimately adapted into a film of the same name in 1993. It was directed by Michael Caton-Jones and its lead actors are Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Ellen Barkin, and Chris Cooper. The movie as well was positively-received by the public, but garnered no major film award nominations.