Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

RATING: StarStarStar

Genre: Classics | Literature > Young Adult

Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.”

His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

Literary Awards: National Book Award Nominee for Fiction (1952), Teen Read Award Nominee for Best All-Time-Fave (2010)

*****

I’ll make this quick. I like Holden, I really do.With his disgust for phonies, even his foul mouth. But let’s face it, not everyone who read The Catcher in the Rye will get whatever it is that Salinger wants to convey. I didn’t get it at first. But once I knew Salinger’s message behind the book, it was just okay. The impact was not that gut-wrenching for me.

The thing that struck me the most is Holden’s relationship with his sister. Even if he is on the brink of self-destruction, his love for her never got tainted. That even if Holden wants to forget everything in his life, she anchored him to hope, kindness, and life.

I saw why The Catcher in the Rye is a banned book. But once I looked closely on why Holden wanted to be the catcher in the rye, it was a realization that troubled teenagers need to know. Therefore, it must be available, and not banned, right?

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