If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
***Read as part of the Through the Wardrobe Debut Novels Challenge***
This book was one classic I had managed to completely side step in my teens and yet it was the one everyone raved about and quoted ¬– though looking back, I think that was probably the reason I avoided picking it up! I’d always read that opening line and decided against delving any further into the mind of Holden Caulfield because, let’s face it, it makes him sound like a pompous arse! And he is. But he’s also an incredibly intriguing character with a lot to say and a lot left unsaid and that makes for a good read!
The Catcher in the Rye follows the immediate actions of Holden Caulfield, one naïve yet articulate seventeen year-old, who has just been expelled for the fourth time from his fourth very fancy boarding school. Instead of going home to face the music, Holden decides to wait a while and uses his free days of ‘limbo’ to see New York and experience and observe the world he lives in.
As with every teen, Holden is a hyperbolic character who repeats his favourite phrases repeatedly and leaves ‘goddamn’s all over the place. He is hyper- and hypocritical, seeing ‘phonies’ everywhere he looks, despite being one of the privileged he mocks so readily. And yet there is something unbelievably endearing about him and the internal struggles he faces – trying to fit in and be truthful to himself – is something every teen (and human) can relate to.
Holden has a lot to say and a lot of people he can say it to but by the end of Catcher I felt sorry for him and empathised with his overcompensating behaviour that was a mask for his loneliness. I feel with the modern world so focussed on social media and portraying a certain exciting lifestyle that may not reflect reality, Holden’s struggle and his inability to understand himself has never been more relevant to teens today.
So why is a book that is essentially 200+ pages of fictional teenage waffle so enjoyable and popular you will surely ask? Because it’s eloquent, entertaining and a goddamn good read! It’s still fresh and relevant and interesting – even if I am now of an age to analyse rather than relate!