Genres: Classics, Young Adult
Main themes: Coming of Age
Rating: 3 stars
Kicked out of school (for the fourth time now) because of his poor grades, Holden Caulfield finds himself in a bit of a predicament when he spontaneously decides to pack his bags but it’s not home he’s headed… no, Holden isn’t ready to face his parents and so, opting to just make do with what money he has saved, readers accompany Holden on what promises to be an odd few days in New York.
I liked The Catcher in the Rye; Holden was an interesting and unpredictable protagonist who even now, I’m still trying to figure out. You really had no idea which direction the story would go in just because Holden’s behaviour was very driven by his emotions, and given he was someone who experienced a lot of mood swings, this definitely meant you didn’t know what would be happening a few pages on. But whilst Holden was an interesting character, a lot of the time he brought out my inner parent (something which I never knew existed). Honestly I spent so much time worrying about him. At one point Holden was sitting in Central Park in the middle of night, all alone and practically freezing to death for no apparent reason other than wanting to know where the ducks went during the winter.
So yeah I kind of struggled with the fact that a lot of the time, he acted on a whim, which would often come across as completely bizarre but being an unhappy teenage boy, I guess he was prone to doing reckless things. But having said that, I do believe he may have been mentally unwell (a lot of his behaviour felt psychotic) and so he just needed some help.
What I liked most about Holden was his dry sense of humour though. He genuinely had me laughing out loud at some of his remarks, and his inner commentary about his observations or the conversations he was having would often be comical. At times he could be quite insightful too; like with some of the people he would identify as phonies. I mean he called a lot of people ‘phony’ but he more times than not was completely onto something, like when he highlighted his headteacher as a phony because he’d only speak to the more wealthier or ‘elite’ parents.
One of my favourite things about the book in general was getting to meet Phoebe, Holden’s little sister. Their relationship was endearing and I thought she a sweet and smart young girl. I find little kids entertaining because they can be so naive, and you can’t help but just smile about some of the things they say or do. I liked that Salinger portrayed that within Phoebe’s character, and that it was something that Holden saw and liked within Phoebe. He was like that with most of the kids he came across in the story which I guess builds on the fact that he saw them as uncorrupted; they hadn’t been affected by adulthood or grown up to become a phony. I think this was something he valued and wanted to protect because he himself was struggling with transitioning into adulthood.
So overall I liked The Catcher in the Rye but by the end it didn’t have that much of an impact on me. I’m really glad I read it and there’s nothing at all that I’d change about the story; it’s just that I didn’t really have a connection with it. I think it’s definitely worth reading though, and I thought Salinger’s writing was great and so as a well loved classic I still think it’s something many can appreciate and enjoy.