Book Reviews

Book Review: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger


The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

J.D. Salinger’s classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951. The novel was included on Time‘s 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. It was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It has been frequently challenged in the court for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and in the 1950’s and 60’s it was the novel that every teenage boy wants to read.


Holden Cualfield

Holden is a young boy and the book is told from his point of view.


New York City, 1949

Agerstown, Pennsylvania, 1949

Literary Awards

Teen Read Award Nominee for Best all time fav 2010

National book award finalist for fiction 1952


“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

“I am always saying “Glad to’ve met you” to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.”

“Mothers are all slightly insane.”

“who wants flowers when you’re dead? nobody.”

My Thoughts

I’ve read this book many times in the span of my life. I think I was around 13 the first time I read it. I was about 19 the second time. I was 25 the third time. Now, I’m 31 and read it again. I have to say that each time I read Holden, I have different results. Sometimes I like it, sometimes, it annoys me, sometimes I can’t get through it. Other times, I eat it up and enjoy the simplicity of what it is. Right now, I’m annoyed by it for several reasons. I’m sure if I read it again, it’ll change. Right now, I’ll leave my review as is.

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