Since his debut in 1951
as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with
"cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in
his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep
school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on
banned book lists. It begins,
"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. In the
first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents
would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty
personal about them."
His constant wry observations about what he
encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not
mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage
experience of alienation.
get it. This book, Holden Caulfield; I get it.
Reading this book
brought back memories of adolescence that I now understand better
because of the way Holden reacted to them. I'm glad I didn't read this
when I was a kid; I wouldn't have understood it at all. As an adult
looking back, I completely get it.
Except for the major depression, poor
language, super-rich parents and living in New York, this guy could
totally be my male-adolescent-emotional-doppleganger. The phonies
thing!! I totally felt like that. I still feel like that. I hate
This book is so perfectly written. It's not clean, it's not
polished; It's gritty and honest and it feels the way things really
feel. I think that's why so many people relate to it. It's feels so real
and makes so much sense. Every teenager goes through those feelings. My
only problem with the book was that there was no real plot. It just
kind of wandered. But I guess that made it more real, too, because life
just kind of wanders. There's no real plot until you look back at the
end of your life and piece together all the major events that make your
It's just one of those books that touched me. I will remember it and think back on it fondly. This one book understood me; What it was like to feel alienated, to be a teenager. So well done. Modern classic.
Sexual Content: Heavy (talking about sex and an almost-sex scene, some make-out scenes)
Drugs/Alcohol: Moderate (if you include cigarette smoking, then Heavy)