Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye
Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J. D. Salinger
Publication Date: 1951
Pages: 277
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels list
Date Completed: 4/24/15

Summary: Privileged and cynical teenager Holden Caulfield has been kicked out of yet another prep school. Rather than wait around for the end of term, he heads out on his own to explore the city, drink a lot, and judge people.

What I Thought: Ok, I know this book is supposed to be groundbreaking and a voice of modern teenagers and all, but I have to be honest; I really hated it. To me, the whole thing reads as a whiney, spoiled teenager misbehaving his way around the city because he does not have enough self-discipline or maturity to behave otherwise.

Maybe it's because I did not go through a big rebellious stage as a teenager or maybe it is because I have little patience for unjustified self-righteousness. Whatever the reason, I simply could not relate to Caulfield. He drove me crazy. The only moment I remotely appreciated him as a character or human being was when he went to see his little sister. The moments he spoke of her, clearly with such affection, gave glimpses of genuine emotion as opposed to his affected attitude. 

I do understand why this book resonates with other readers; the pushback against society, structure, and authority makes perfect sense for the angsty, disenfranchised youth of the 1950s. I understand completely why Salinger's portrayal of this character made such waves in its time. I also completely understand why so many schools have banned it over the years (FYI: I'm against censorship, but that doesn't mean I do not understand or even sympathize with its motives at times.). Caulfield's adventure of rebellion and immorality clearly appeals to some. I just cannot connect with or enjoy the escapades of a character who so clearly has unbalanced priorities and ideas about the world. 

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Not unless I have to

A Reduced Review: Angsty teenager decides to run his own show, eschewing any authority or structure in his life and driving me crazy in the process. 

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