The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
2 out of 5 stars
Some books have an expiration date of when you should read them by. This book's sell by date is the end of your high school days and use by date is end of your college days. Since I am well past both those dates, this book tasted like feet to me. And I'm going to stop using that metaphor now before it gets stale. Hah! Get it? Stale? Okay, now I'm done. :) Anyway, I did not enjoy this book. At all. Holden Caulfield is an insufferable know-it-all and there was no plot really to speak of. But, since I'm in the blogging biz, speak of it, I must.
Holden is a 16 year old boy from a rich, talented family who has just gotten kicked out of another prep school. He says he's not too worried about it because the school was just full of phonies anyway. But deep down, he's maybe a little scared about what his father will do. Okay, I get that this is written from his point of view and it's his story and all (oh man, he's got me using "and all" too...that was so annoying!) but it was really hard to read. I feel like anything I say about this book is going to make me sound like a phony, just like him. But he just kept going on and on about all the pretentiousness when he was sitting there with his fancy luggage, it just makes you sick. There see, just like him. I can absolutely understand my 16 year old self falling in love with this book though and just thinking it was the best thing ever, that the author wrote it *for me*. I did the super angsty poetry and everything. Maybe I'll pull some out for another Throw-Back Sunday, but I'm warning you, it's pretty bad and embarrassing.
Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry.
When Holden gets kicked out right before Christmas break, he decides not to head home for a few days and kicks around in the city. (New York, natch.) This is meant to be some adventuress story about all the crazy things he gets up to in those days. I think. It doesn't really work. You just feel bad for him and bad for yourself for having to read about it. I'm pretty sure he's got social problems...he doesn't really know how to interact with people, constantly getting in their face and yelling, drinking a LOT, not knowing what is appropriate to say and when. And he definitely has a nervous tick for cursing, there's 3 on the first page alone. I did read in one review that he could possibly be gay, which would explain all his sexual misadventures.
The saving grace of this book was his sister, Phoebe. She may just be in 4th grade, but she sees right through Holden's crap. She worries about him, getting kicked out of another school, and she sees right away that he is so depressed and down that he can't even think of one thing that he likes in the world, except their dead brother. She even saves him the end, changing his mind about running off and getting help. Because he does need help, obviously, and the book ends where it began, with Holden in some kind of hospital or home, telling us about his crappy existence.
Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.