Review of The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

First read: Before the list came out (1976ish)
Reviewed on: 8/16/98
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I did not like it.
I liked it.
I thought it one of the Best Novels of All Time

My brother, Al, reads this book once every year, because he says it changes every time he reads it. I reread it less frequently than that, but every time I do read it it does have a different feeling. The first time I read it, when I was 12, Holden was this quite cool older person, who went to New York all by himself, and hired a prostitute, and had dates, etc. One part of the book really amused/confused me. He'd kept going on and on how wonderful his sister, Phoebe was. (I pronounced her name to rhyme with "lobe.") Then he finally got home, and woke her up. And… she turned out to be a typical girl. I couldn't understand why Holden thought she was so unique.

When I read it later, Holden was still older than I was, but I no longer thought of him as "cool." I thought he was like me. Still later he was someone my age, but I started to appreciate how seriously disturbed he was. I remember reading the book and thinking of Holden as someone like a younger brother, but insane. And then I started thinking of him as a confused kid, but not really insane. Of course, I've loved Phoebe more every time I've seen her again. The Catcher in the Rye provides a very rich story with three dimensional characters. This is one of the few "works of Literature" that I think lives up to its billing for me.

In eighth grade, we got to analyze this book in a small group with our teacher, Mr. Piersen. I don't remember thinking that the discussion was all that enlightening, but it felt good to talk about one of my favorite books with other people. It was strange for me to see a book I'd read for pleasure suddenly having dittos associated with it, like a schoolbook.

My former high school English teacher, Mrs. Dedrick, seemed to dislike Salinger. I've never gotten around to asking her why she thinks he is overrated. Its hard to say anything about this book that other people haven't said better. I'm not up to the challenge.

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