The novel, The Catcher in the Rye, is a famous, well-known novel often taught amongst high school English classes. Narrated by a young sixteen year-old and protagonist named Holden Caufield, the novel begins in Pencey prep school of Agerstown, Pennsylvania. Having failed all of his classes except for English, Holden gets expelled from his fourth school and has to return home to Manhattan on Wednesday. He grows afraid of when his parents will find out and decides to leave the campus early and stay in a hotel in New York.
As Holden travels independently for the next few days, he meets different characters ranging from old friends to complete strangers and judges them based on their personalities and sincereness. He gets easily annoyed by those who are “phoney” and struggles with reaching out to those closest to him, even his own family. Throughout the novel, Holden questions his future and clings onto the past before deciding to become a catcher in the rye.
Although the novel was written in the 1950s, it remains a gem because most aspects still relate to young teenagers today—including myself. The book rightfully upholds its reputation as one of the classics. Many aspects of the novel arguably contributes to the authenticity, since it’s difficult to find a book like this one anymore. For instance, the writing style is unique and imitates an individual’s train of thought. Salinger illustrates numerous times in which Holden goes off topic and talks about different random things like the typical human brain.
Salinger also makes the novel as realistic as possible. The characters (especially Holden) and their often spontaneous actions are often relatable to teenagers. Even the plot itself is realistic, as the novel concludes with an open-ending, showing how not all problems are easily nor quickly resolved. It’s fascinating how the author provides such small details that readers may easily overlook.
As a teenager myself, The Catcher in the Rye is an amazing book that should be directed towards more mature, older readers who are willing to understand the book’s true meaning. Although it seems very simple and boring at first, Salinger intentionally wrote the book with room for open interpretation and analysis, diving deep into themes of alienation and the protection of innocence. This story truly reflects the minds of most teenagers and their uncertainty for the future. That being said, I encourage others to read the book, but I cannot promise that everyone will enjoy it.
– Natisha P.
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.