The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Genre: Autobiographical Fiction
Publication Date: First published in a book form in 1951 by Little, Brown and Company
Recommended Age Group: 16 and Up
Summary: The main character in The Catcher in the Rye is Holden Caulfield, a sixteen-year-old who attends Pencey, a private school in the Northeast. He is a troubled boy who has been in and out of many schools because he does not apply himself to his learning and either fails and is kicked out or misbehaves and is kicked out. He is subsequently kicked out of Pencey for failing all of his classes but one, English. Right before the semester ends for Christmas break and he is to go home Holden decided to leave school early and have an adventure in New York. He spends most of his time drinking and spending all his money on frivolous things like drinks and dates with people he cares nothing for (one of them being a prostitute). He also spends a lot of his time wanting to call and talk to people he likes but ends up calling those he doesn’t like and has a lousy time with them in every instance. In the end Holden decides he wants to run away to the west and tells his sister so she can later inform the family. She decides to go with him and it is as a result of this decision that he decides to stay home and commit himself to school. Holden realizes the affect that his choices have on others and then decides to make better ones.
Personal Notes: I think I would be quite hesitant to use this book in a class setting. I was curious enough that I wanted to read it myself because of all that I had heard about it but as I started to read I was shocked and amazed at the use of foul language. I am not one who would swear and I have worked hard to keep those words out of my vocabulary, but while I was reading this book to myself I often had those words running through my head. I do not wish to impose that on anyone else. However, if I knew of someone who did not have a problem with strong language and could look past that I would quickly suggest this book for its other elements.
Something that I found quite interesting about this book is how Holden was always permitted to say exactly what he thought with all honesty. This gave me great insight into the mind of a sixteen-year-old boy and how they think and work. I was also surprised at how kind hearted he was. He would often give the outward appearance of toughness and disinterestedness while express kind or near kind thoughts of the person in his mind.
I think, other than a few too often repeated words, that this is a good book. It gives great insight into the mind of a young adult male. It helps the reader to appreciate the good things in life and to not worry about the rest through its ending in which Holden finally realizes the value of good choices and chooses to be a good example for his sister.