The Wild Boy – Review



A young man escapes his painful past by retreating to the rustic comfort of the Italian Alps in this gorgeously wrought memoir from the internationally bestselling author of the “exquisite” (Annie Proulx) novel The Eight Mountains.

When life in the city becomes too overwhelming for Paolo, he decides to take refuge high in the Italian mountains. Returning to the breathtaking Valle d’Aosta—known for its snowcapped mountain peaks—after a decade’s absence, he rediscovers a simpler life and develops deep human connections with two neighbors. In this stunning landscape, he begins to take stock of his life and consider what he truly values.

With lyrical and evocative prose, The Wild Boy is a testament to the power of the natural world, the necessity of an ever-questioning mind, and the resilience of the human spirit.

I’m always a big fan of books reminiscent of Walden by Henry David Thoreau. In fact, he’s been coming up frequently in my readings lately. Clearly, his kindred spirit is shouting to me from the other side to capture more adventure and solitude in my own life. From the very beginning of this short memoir, I knew I was finding yet another spirit like my own in the pages, with Paolo Cognetti’s mentions of Walden, even quoting some of my favorite passages of Thoreau’s.

Cognetti’s writing is beautiful in its own right with his lush descriptions of the mountains of Italy and the lyrical style he used to capture the intense emotions his lifestyle evoked. One of my favorite things about reading translated books is that it allows a first-hand look into another culture. It was interesting to see how similar things are in Cognetti’s world, and the desire to escape into nature can be found in people from across the globe. The fast-paced city lives many of us face do their best to sap our joy and make us crave the simplest pleasures. Planting a garden, walking, building a fire, and sleeping under the stars may not be the most exciting tasks but they have a way of connecting to us our true nature, helping us to slow down and relax.

My favorite thing about this book was the self-reflection in the pages. Cognetti’s introspective style allows us to fully live the life he’s experiencing. While he craved alone time, he still was stuck with himself, desiring to escape the confines of his own person. Haven’t we all felt a tad sick of ourselves at one point or another? He expanded on the phrase, “wherever you go, there you are.”

“…solitude resembles a house of mirrors: everywhere I looked I found myself reflected: distorted, grotesque, multiplied an infinate number of times. I could free myself of everything except him.”

This is a miniscule memoir, coming in at less than 200 pages. I wish it could have been slightly expanded to include a more cohesive storyline. There was a choppiness about it that sometimes made it hard to keep up with what had transpired in Cognetti’s life and where he was at the moment of writing. Rather, it felt like a collection of journal entries without the dates or locations added in.

Overall, I found some things I really enjoyed in this book. Reading for me is about connection and I found it exciting to feel connected to someone who lives across an ocean from a completely different culture, lifestyle, and gender.

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase on Amazon.


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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Jules_Writes says:

    Interesting review.

    Liked by 1 person

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