The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger, Copyright 1945.
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: Personal Collection – Purchased New
I have to be honest, I feel slightly embarrassed to be reviewing the Catcher in the Rye as one of my premiere reviews. This just wasn’t one of the books that they covered in my high school. Here I am twenty-five years old and I had never read the book. In fact, I hadn’t the slightest idea what it was about. I’m making a point to try and catch up on some of the classics I haven’t yet read and, let me tell you, there are a great many of them. Thus, when J.D. Salinger passed away earlier this year, it prompted me (and every other book blogger in the blogosphere) to pick up a copy of his best known work and cross one off the list.
In the beginning, Salinger really grabbed me in this coming of age story about sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield. I absolutely love stories with smart-alecky kids. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because they remind me of myself not long ago or maybe it’s simply that they are good for a laugh. There have been very few books that have had me laughing out loud, but this was certainly one of them. Caulfield had me in stitches several times through the first half of the book.
“I’m not too crazy about sick people, anyway. What made it even more depressing, old Spencer had this very sad, ratty old bathrobe that he was probably born in or something. I don’t much like to see old guys in their pajamas and bathrobes anyway. Their bumpy old chests are always showing.” – The Catcher in the Rye, page 7.
The whole novel is written from Holden’s point-of-view in this same negative, know-it-all teenager sort of narrative. Knowing he is getting the boot from his prep school and worrying about the consequences he will face at home, Caulfield takes off on a weekender in New York. Plagued by teenage angst and his own insecurities, he recounts one failed escapade after another over the course of his weekend. Holden is terrified of responsibility and the prospects of his own future. The poor kid seems to hate everything (except maybe his kid sister Phoebe) and doesn’t want to grow up to be anything except the catcher in the rye. We are never entirely sure which parts he is being honest about, because as he admits at the very beginning, he is a wonderful liar.
Though I found myself developing a real soft spot for Holden, the smart-aleck attitude that really had me hooked at the beginning began to ware and I started getting quite bored with him as he becomes increasingly depressed. Add to that a mundane plot and little in the way of a solid conclusion, and the Catcher in the Rye comes in at a very average three star rating. With the sexual tension and all the swearing Caulfield does, I can see how this book would really appeal to a younger audience. Personally, I have no regrets about reading the novel; at the very least, I can cross it off my TBR list.
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