Boy From The Woods
by Harlan Coben has many ingredients to it. It touches on
politics, power, romance, bullying, guilt, family, and how
social status can either help or hurt a person.
“When I start to write a book, I think about what I
want to emphasize. In this one, I wanted to cover fake news,
extremism, cult leaders, and moral obligations. I know the
beginning and ending of a story, and what I think about just
flows into the book. When I write a book, I am like a boxer.
I do not save any punches for the next time around. One of
those topics highlighted is bullying. There is always that
person who is picked up on, which is not something new in
today’s world. I wondered how they could make it through
the day with this terrible treatment. I think it is worse
now. Years ago, before social media, those bullied had a reprise
when they went home.”
The book opens with a character resembling a Jungle Book personality,
Mowgli. Thirty years ago, a boy who was eventually named Wilde
was found with no memory of his past as he came out of the
woods. He became friends with David, the son of Hester Crimstein,
a television criminal attorney. After David died in a car
accident, Wilde became a “step-father” to Matthew.
Worried about a bullied classmate, Matthew approaches his
grandmother, Hester, and Wilde, fearing that something disastrous
has happened to Naomi. As Wilde and Hester ratchet up their
investigative skills to find Naomi, another youth goes missing
as the plot thickens.
Readers will enjoy learning about Wilde’s backstory.
In 1986 a boy approximately six years old was found living
on his own in the woods near Westville, N.J. Raised in foster
care, he excelled in school and even more so in the military
where he was a member of an elite group taking part in secret
missions, after graduating from West Point. Now, as an adult,
he remains somewhat reclusive and continues to live in the
forest in an eco-friendly but technologically advanced pod-like
structure that can be moved around at will.
“I got the idea for this character while I was hiking
in the woods. I saw a 5 or 6-year-old boy walking around.
The “what if” took over, and I thought about a
boy who would come out of the woods and not remember anything.
He basically raised himself and is kind of feral. Even thirty
years later, no one ever claimed him. After being found, he
was compared to a Tarzan or Mowgli. This became the seed for
the story. Wilde, as the boy was called, is most comfortable
in the woods, since he does not connect very well. I think
he is quiet, fiercely loyal, caring, strong, athletic, and
Although this book has a hodgepodge of sub-plots, the main
plot is riveting. Readers can easily connect with the engrossing
characters and will want more stories involving Wilde and
Hester. They are deeply invested and want to know what will
happen to them next.