The Catcher in the Rye is a marmite book, if ever there was one. Yet, just as I am unashamedly a marmite-lover, this cult classic won me over after the first sentence. In short, this is a book for teenagers and all those who have been teenagers before. It's a book for the cynical pessimists and a book for the Holden Caulfields of our generation. The Catcher in the Rye is a book for a rainy day, and a goddam good one too.
Author: JD Salinger | Publisher: Back Bay Books | Pages: 277 | Source: Bought |Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." 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
MY THOUGHTS: The Catcher in The Rye is loveable for many reasons, but mainly for Holden Caulfield – the pessimistic anti-hero in the red hunting cap. He may hate almost everything, have a tendency to twist the truth and be slightly hypocritical, but among the grey hairs and occasional white lies, Holden has a part of him that we can all relate to; he's the original naive teenager, navigating his way through an adult's world: we can't deny we all can relate to that, even if we went about it in a different way to being expelled from school.
Holden's voice is endearing in a way that he could be telling us nothing and we'd still be listening. Throughout, he tells you about the death of his brother Allie and his love for his younger sister Phoebe; Holden has such a close connection with his siblings you almost can’t blame him for not trying to be friends with any of his room mates. Holden's hilarious, full of angst, confused and yet compassionate – he's one of the most interesting characters I've encountered and the sympathy I had for him came in bucket loads.
The Catcher in the Rye is a novel about a teenager’s loneliness and the painfulness of growing up. Holden’s just a small kid in a big kid’s world not knowing exactly where he stands. But as we read about Holden’s transition from childhood to adulthood, you can’t help but wish that Salinger gives him a happy ending that he deserves after all his problems. It's a modern classic and a coming of age novel that I recommend to any teenager – despite the profanity.
All in all, reading The Catcher in the Rye will either change your perspective on life forever, or be a complete waste of time. Let's hope for the former though as Holden's, ironically, one of the only characters I've met who speaks a bit of sense.