How is it that a book written in the 1940s can still be so relevant in 2012? Despite the time jump, teenagers apparently have not changed that much over the years. Holden Caulfield is part madman, part genius, and part insecure. He is also the personification of every teenager to ever walk the earth. The Catcher in The Rye is one of the most witty, biting, and real coming of age stories I’ve ever read.
This is the story of Holden Caulfield’s five days of independence as he lounges about the city of New York and attempts to make plans for his future—which sounds painfully boring. But I promise you, it is so much more.
What makes this book fantastic is that the protagonist is nowhere near perfect. He has a quality better than perfection, which is likability. For all of his misguidedness, he is intelligent, polite, and generous. He is the kind of character that you wouldn’t mind meeting up with for coffee and chatting with for hours. Which, incidentally, is the tone of the entire novel. The book really feels like you’re listening to a good friend of yours (Holden would call you a buddyroo; silly 40’s slang) tell you a story about a crazy weekend he had.
Holden shares his problems with grades, smoking, girls (he has a lot of problems with girls), and, most of all, “phonies.” Holden’s hatred for fake people makes him possibly one of the first recorded American hipsters.
At about 224 pages, this is a short read that should take high school students a maximum of a few days to complete. It is a great little escapist novel that is easy to read and continuously supplies its audience with pithy rhetorical questions. It is presumably this combination—easy on the eyes, but containing concepts that are much deeper—that has made this book a classic.
I highly suggest this book for all teenagers who have ever questioned societal norms, or any who might want to.
The RedEyed Reader