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. 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.
I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked this book up. I didn’t read the synopsis so I had no idea what it was about. And this book actually surprised me.
The first person narrative was really surprising to me. I wasn’t expecting that at all.
I found the main character a little annoying and I didn’t really like how the male characters referred to women. I didn’t like how they talked to women. It was a little degrading. But the book was first published 1951 so it’s not that surprising. Disappointing but not surprising.
I felt like noting really happened in this book. It was a story not a tale. There was no real plot, no climax.
Overall, I can see why some people love this book. I can also see why some people hate it.
For me, it was way better than I thought it was going to be but it’s not one of my favorites. If it hadn’t been mildly degrading to women, I would have liked it a lot more. But it was and it really impacted how I felt about the book. However, I can definitely see myself rereading this book in a couple of years.