Book Review: Catcher in the Rye

Posted February 18, 2015 by @Angelized_1st in Back to the Classics Book Challenge 2015, Banned Books Challenge 2015, Books, Entertainment, Reading Challenges / 0 Comments

Book Review: Catcher in the RyeThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Published by Little, Brown on January 30th 2001
Genres: Classics, Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
ISBN: 9780316769174
Buy on: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks

“I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot. ”
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

The Good…:

I haven’t read Catcher in the Rye since high school, but always remembered it as one of my favorite books. It’s funny how your opinion of books can change through the years, as you have more experiences. While I did enjoy the book this time around, my point of view has changed.

In the novel, Holden Caulfield is a young man who flunks out of his Pennsylvania prep school, and decides to head home to New York City for the weekend before he’s due home for Christmas break. Though the year is never stated, this book appears to take place during the 1940’s or 1950’s. As Holden hides from his family, who is soon to learn of his expulsion, by moving from hotels,  night clubs, and Central Park, he discusses his thoughts on life with the reader. Holden isn’t really saying much, but his ramblings usually resonate with the teens tasked with reading this novel in high school, and gives older people insight to teens feelings of alienation.

The Bad…:

As stated above: Holden doesn’t really talk about anything. You never really learn much about his life, as he exaggerates in excess. The entire three days he spends in NYC, Holden wanders without any purpose except avoiding his family. He doesn’t like anything or anyone. In fact, not much really happens in the novel.

The Ugly…:

Holden’s whining can wear thin. Funny, as a teen I couldn’t put the book down, but now I had to take breaks from him. My once upon a time hero, now reads as a spoiled rich kid, who doesn’t appreciate how good his life really is. Kind of grates as a working adult.

Do I Recommend?

Yes. Despite my above griping, Salinger has written a masterpiece that still stands up through time. The fact the time period is never mentioned allows the novel to remain timeless. As you read Catcher in the Rye you began to realize that Holden is more troubled then you originally thought, and that he’s not the most reliable narrator. This keeps the novel on your mind long after you’ve read it. Classic!


Rating Report
Overall: 4.6

About J.D. Salinger

Jerome David Salinger was an American author, best known for his 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye, as well as his reclusive nature. His last original published work was in 1965; he gave his last interview in 1980. Raised in Manhattan, Salinger began writing short stories while in secondary school, and published several stories in the early 1940s before serving in World War II. In 1948 he published the critically acclaimed story “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” in The New Yorker magazine, which became home to much of his subsequent work. In 1951 Salinger released his novel The Catcher in the Rye, an immediate popular success.

The success of The Catcher in the Rye led to public attention and scrutiny: Salinger became reclusive, publishing new work less frequently. He followed Catcher with a short story collection, Nine Stories (1953), a collection of a novella and a short story, Franny and Zooey (1961), and a collection of two novellas, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction (1963). His last published work, a novella entitled “Hapworth 16, 1924”, appeared in The New Yorker on June 19, 1965. Afterward, Salinger struggled with unwanted attention. Salinger died of natural causes on January 27, 2010, at his home in Cornish, New Hampshire.


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