Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the RyeThe Catcher in the RyeIf 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. 

I ended up loving The Catcher in the Rye. I really wish I had read it sooner. It is the story of Holden Caulfield, our hero-narrator. As the book opens, he is kicked out of his third high school. He has flunked all of his courses except English. Holden himself is so complex. He's immature and there's this tough exterior, but inside, he's really longing for more, for some emotional commitment. He's also really compassionate, and though he's expelled from school, he's actually really smart in some respects. He reads a lot and talks about the books so well. Holden has so much pain which you can tell he is trying to conceal.

The best thing about this novel is probably the voice. Holden's narration is so compelling, so amazing, and so surprising. He curses a lot, but he is also so wise, and some of his descriptions so amazing. I kind of distrusted him though; he freely admits to lying a lot and well throughout the book. So for a while I thought that he was lying to the reader. But whether he was lying or not, I loved the book from the beginning. Especially when he's thinking about his time with Jane, which is so much more meaningful than anything else.

The Catcher in the Rye reminded me of The Outsiders a little bit. In both, the book is narrated by a troubled but surprisingly smart teenage boy living in the city who gets into some trouble. The Catcher in the Rye is kind of a depressing book; Holden is depressed a lot by things he sees, and some of that rubbed off on me while I was reading it. Holden sees everything as totally meaningless and ungenuine. He calls things "corny" and "phony" a lot. It also reminded me of a better, more complicated version of The Perks of Being A Wallflower. I kind of wished that The Catcher in the Rye would have resolved the questions that it posed to some extent. It didn't though, which was probably good in the end. Questions like the one in this book can't ever be "answered".

The Catcher in the Rye was very depressing and somewhat repetitive, but I still read it really quickly, and I still loved it. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the writing and the characters. The way that Holden hates movies and that his brother threw away his writing talent to write screenplays really kills me, as Holden would say.

214 pages.
Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (jf I own it)!


  1. Ever heard of Colton Harris-Moore? I read an interview with him once and he reminded me of a real-life Holden.

  2. Great review, Cleo. This is one of my favorite books. Make sure you read Franny and Zooey.