Thursday, April 8, 2010

Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

Summary: Originally published in 1951 for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage confusion, angst, sexuality, alienation and rebellion...The novel's protagonist and antihero, Holden Caulfield, has become an icon for teenage rebellion.

The novel was included on a 2005 Time Magazine list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. It has been frequently challenged in the United States for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and teenage angst. It also deals with complex issues of identity, belonging, connection, and alienation. (Image from Amazon.com - Summary taken from Wikipedia.com)

My Review: This was another book club assigned classic that I missed in high school. Written in the 1st person voice of a high school junior in the 1950s this book was among the first of the "stream of consciousness" narratives that are now so common.

I read the first few chapters of the Catcher in the Rye out loud as my family started out on a road trip. Because of the 1st person voice, and a juvenile one at that it was fun to read, despite my frequent need to substitute dang, heck and gosh.

The loose plot chronicles the downward spiral of a good-hearted troublemaker. It was full of outrageous events that remained believable. I read with trepidation, afraid the story would end with tragedy like so many 10th grade English reading books do. It didn't - although many moments are, by themselves, heartbreaking or tender.

Although Holden's inner dialogue tended to be repetitious it was written with such sincerity that it was endearing. Ultimately, the dialogue was familiar to my formerly 17-year old self. Although I have never hired, then rejected, a teenage prostitute, the rambling, doubt-filled, idealistic thoughts embodied the teen age years. Years where, even under the perfect circumstances, life and the pressure of choices weighs on each person.

A note on the controversial nature of this book. Um...I wasn't offended. This might be a commentary on me, or on society... or just on me. I only really noticed the language when I was reading it out loud and the teenage sexuality wasn't terrible shocking, frankly, it was nothing you wouldn't hear about on Oprah. Let me know if you disagree.

My rating: 4 stars - I'm going to vote with the English teachers and Time Magazine on this one.

Sum it up: Classic, timeless, smart, teenage angst.

1 comment:

Josette said...

I'm glad I picked this book up too. Well I had to read it for my English class.

Truly, it's like no other novel I've read. This was really thought-provoking - Holden's ramblings got me thinking a lot, I kid you not. He may talk nonsense some of the time but I think there's truth in all those nonsense. A great read, no doubt about it! :)

Here is my review of it. Thanks!

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