03 January 2012

The Catcher in the Rye: Review

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger was published in 1951. Many consider it an act of genius, a real capture of the truth of adolescence, and witty and bright. I found myself really hating life as I read it, and this was around Christmas, a holiday that I love.

I never read this in school, although I was aware of it and I think it was required in some English class. But I knew of it, the lead character, the setting. I just had not read the classic and figured now would be a good time to do so. A clean copy crossed my desk, and I have to take advantage of those clean copies.

Like I said but not in so many words, I didn't like the book. I thought it was tedious. Maybe for 1951 it was avant grade, I don't know. I found myself wishing the main character would commit suicide. I did not like him or really anyone in the story.

I went to Amazon to screen shot this cover and found myself reading the five star reviews, and then reading the one star reviews. I was glad to agree with the one star folks and most of them were actual teen-agers.

If you have read this book and think that it is wonderful, please tell me why.


  1. It's been so long since I read it that I would have trouble commenting. I am a little sorry to have read so much about Salinger the man though, because I think it might ruin my perspective on anything of his that I read.

  2. Oh thanks Christine! What have you read of Salinger? Do you have any bios to recommend? I hate to be harsh, but I guess that's the point of reviews. Maybe my strong POV is a good reflection of the book. I mean I've read many books I don't remember or even care to comment about.

  3. He died in 2010, so after that there were a number of articles in the NY Times, New Yorker etc. The women in his life, including his daughter, tended to portray him as cruel and manipulative.
    I am always disappointed when this type of personal information colors how I read and perceive a book. I loved Kafka until I read his letters.

  4. I didn't read it in school, either. I read it the summer I was 18, just after graduation from high school. I think being 18 and closer to the angst of adolescence assisted with my appreciation of the book, but when I finished, I do remember thinking "Well, that was depressing." I don't think it's wonderful. But the book was remarkable to me for the similarity of the normal adolescent experience, which can be somewhat traumatic on its own, to the process of a person experiencing an actual mental breakdown. Like, the process of moving through the teenage years is one of losing one's innocence the world and about adults. Thus, Holden is obsessed with labeling people who are phony, and "catching" all the children in the rye. The book was also interesting in that it portrayed kids doing scandalous kinds of things. Adults want to think that kids don't have the same kinds of human thoughts and instincts as adults. But now as a grownup, it's so weird to me how I feel the same as I always felt, when I was a kid, a teenager, a young adult. Obviously, now I have the benefit of more maturity, knowledge and emotional stability. (When I was little, my mother used to talk about how my brother and I were so lucky, because we were young and had no responsibilities, but now as an adult, I think that's just my Mom's perception. I *love* being an adult. Adolescence sucked, mostly. I would never wish to live through that again. Live through the process of losing my innocence about life, that is.)

    However, I do think that the popularity of the book benefits from the fact that it is written by a male author and told from the perspective of a male character; it receives disproportionate adulation and attention. (Preceptors of the Western Canon LOVE themselves some 20th century male authors.) Reading about the adolescent experience in all my Judy Blume books was a lot more enriching for me, personally. I have and would read those over again, but I don't ever wish to read CITR again! (I tried another Salinger novel, Franny and Zooey, but it had a slow start so I got bored and put it down. Maybe in the future I will try again.)


Thanks for sharing!