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Oh Adolescence, How I’ve Missed You. Review of J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”

By Crossstitchyourheart @TMNienaber

Oh Adolescence, How I’ve Missed You.  Review of J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”Holden Caulfield is having a tough time with life.  He’s been kicked out of yet another school and doesn’t want to face his parents, yet also doesn’t really care about any of it.  If you had any kind of normal adolescence these are feelings you should be able to relate to at at least some level (whether you’re willing to admit them or not).  Holden might be a little self-obsessed, unempathetic, and frustratingly arrogant, but (not that it forgives his character) he is only a teenager.

Salinger’s book has long been hailed one of the classics when it comes to adolescent coming of age novels and Holden is a character worth holding up to discussion.  I have to admit, even if it

Oh Adolescence, How I’ve Missed You.  Review of J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”
pains me to say it, this is one of the classics I just didn’t like.  Perhaps this is my age and experience speaking, but all  I really want to do is smack Holden upside the head and tell him sometimes the world has real problems.  But this is probably unfair.  After all, not only is Holden a teenager but he’s had to stay that way for years and will for the rest of time.  So instead of doing my best Holden Caufield impersonation as I complain about Holden Caufield I thought I’d just talk about the things that make this book worth while.

Holden’s life may not be an accurate depiction of teenage life today, but before you jump on the “overly priviledged boy who goes to boarding school and screws it up” bandwagon take a step back. John Green does the same thing (like in Looking for Alaska) and almost everyone is willing to overlook for the novel’s deeper meaning. (This might not be the best comparison, but it was the first that came to mind).  Holden is struggling with who he is not only in the face of growing up, but after his brother Alex’s death.  When you overlook the hyperbolic and unreliable narration of Holden’s and think about what might be going on in this characters life you have to feel a twinge of sympathy.  Holden doesn’t want anything else to change.  He wants to help preserve the innocence of his little sister (and the other little children) because of how life looks now that he’s lost his.

And then there are the ducks.  You can’t forget the ducks.

Overall this is not one of my favorite books.  I didn’t exactly enjoy it and it’s not one I feel the need to go back and read over and over again (although that’s an unavoidable occupational hazard as a high school English teacher) but it is a book that talks about some things worth talking up.  So while I wouldn’t recommend it as something to read in your free time it does have enough redeeming characters for you to make the best of it should you feel obliged (or forced) to read this one for yourself.  And if you don’t believe me, watch the fabulous John Green video below.

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