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.
My Rating: 5/5
I first read and reviewed this book in 2012. My original review can be found here. I decided to review it again because I felt I had a deeper understanding of the book my second time around.
In my original review I mentioned that I thought I would enjoy this book each time I would reread it. I would have to say that statement was half true. On one hand I definitely felt like I understood the book a lot more but on the other hand I didn't connect with Holden as much as I did the first time around.
Holden is a very, very difficult character to characterize without spoiling the entire book. The book is Holden, and Holden is, well, Holden.
It was obvious to me reading this that Holden is terrified of growing up. He sees adults as 'phonies' and feels he has to protect children from growing up and losing their innocence by entering adulthood.
It was also obvious to me that Holden was in the midst of a deep depression and based on the time period this book is set, this goes unnoticed for the entirety of the novel.
I still found the book rather slow paced and directionless for long periods and an actual plot would have helped this but overall I really do love this book as it is more a character driven novel.