The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (4.3 Stars)

Spoiler-free Review

You either like Holden, or you don’t. And then you either like the book, or you don’t.

I liked Holden, in a very strange, unhealthy, bring me back to my teenage depressions kind of way. I will admit that there were parts when I didn’t quite like him, but for most of the book I was utterly fascinated by the way he lives his life – not only in these few days that the reader experiences with him, but in general. He was so alive, he had so many side-stories to tell, from that curious point of view he has on the world.

You will know whether you like the book or not within the first few pages of reading, because the first hurdle you will have to overcome is not about Holden himself. It’s about the way he writes his story. It’s what I like to call spoken language. He writes it the way he thinks it and would say it in a conversation with friends. Usually, I don’t like that. I prefer articulated narrations. For some reason, the consistency in which it is done here kept me going and, at a point, I even noted that I enjoyed reading this particular writing style. That doesn’t mean that I’d like to read more books like that. It just means that it gave Holden even more character.

I thought of Holden as a Dandy – I am not saying that I’m using the word correctly – as he had a certain nonchalance about him, but at the same time he did care, as he was interested in everything, knew about everything, and had an opinion about everything. I enjoyed reading about his personal commentary, which were sometimes strongly laced with his own morals.

His morals were another surprising element about his character. Some of his thoughts were straight-out disgusting, and then, the next moment, he justified things in a way that he became a fictional crush (please note: he totally threw me back to my teenage years, I might have mentioned).

A thought I had while reading: “I have this sort of fascination with Holden. Sometimes I can’t for the life of me understand what he is doing and why. And then he has these moments when he is a true gentleman, and just naturally helps people out and is polite and it seems to be a complete opposite of character.
It is also so fascinating how he sees the world. Like the memory of the museum, it’s so real and dynamic, though it is a static experience.”

The best thing though, in that museum, was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. … The only thing that would be different would be you.

As this was a book I only read because I had heard about it so often, especially in context with educational literature, this was the very reason I read it. I didn’t expect to enjoy it, but it wasn’t all bad. (I do feel the need to read secondary literature.) That being said, I don’t know if I had wanted to read it in school. Some of the themes… But they are appropriate for the average high school student.

I will admit: The boy is crazy! But, please, read his story.

Rating

Idea: 5 Stars
Characters: 5 Stars
Realization: 4 Stars
Writing Style: 4 Stars
General Rating: 4 Stars
Personal Rating: 4 Stars

 

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