Book Review

REVIEW: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I don’t usually read classics. I’m not sure why. For some reason, classics are totally different to other books and scare me off. So when I was assigned to read this for school, I was a bit skeptical. After all, it is one of the ‘great American classics.’ The thing is, though, I ended up really, really loving it. It’s now one of my favourite books of all time.

To explain the plot is quite hard because there isn’t really a plot at all. The Catcher in the Rye is very character driven, almost entirely character driven. We get hints of a core plot running through the entire novel, but, even at the end, and after thinking very hard, I’m still not entirely sure of the plot. I think you just need to pick it up and read for yourself.

Our protagonist is Holden Caulfield. At the start of the novel we find out he has been kicked out of his fourth school, Pencey Prep. After a string of events meaning Holden leaves Pencey days before he is supposed to, he finds himself in New York.

The Catcher in the Rye is a story of adolescence and identity. Holden often talks of adults being ‘phonies’ and has a very childlike mind. Throughout the novel we get the idea that Holden is grasping onto the last threads of his childhood whilst coming to terms with his impending adulthood. It’s such a difficult time and age is something that is mentioned a lot during the novel, whether it’s Holden being told he’s too young to drink in a bar, or calling someone ‘old.’ The contrast between young and old is striking and I think it’s very interesting to think about.

Another major theme is acceptance. Through his actions, it is clear that Holden is seeking the acceptance and attention he so needs. It’s as if he needs the bridge between childhood and adulthood to be acknowledged.

Holden is such an interesting and inspiring character. I felt as if I understood him to such a great extent and his words were so thought provoking. Salinger has created a character that is the epitome of teenage thoughts and feelings. Teenage years are full of discovering who you are, and Holden’s journey was all about discovering himself. I really wanted to give him a big hug.

The Catcher in the Rye isn’t the right book for everyone, but you won’t know until you try it out.

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  • Reply
    Kimi @ Geeky Chiquitas
    27 January, 2014 at 3:01 am

    I read this book when I was 14 and it instantly became my favorite book! What I loved most about this is the narrative and how well-rounded Holden is! Great review! 🙂

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    Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)
    27 January, 2014 at 3:56 am

    I used to hate classics and avoid them as well because I am not used to the writing and wording authors used at that time. However I had to read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen for school and really got into it. Now I’m trying to read all the Austen books!

    Brilliant review, Lucy! <33
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    27 January, 2014 at 8:24 am

    I haven’t read a classic for the longest time, but Catcher is one of my favorites. I loved how it was simple and complex at the same time, and I loved Holden as well. I really wish we were assigned this to read back in high school :c
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    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain
    27 January, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    I’m glad you liked this one so much! I’m reading this book next year in school and I may want to read it sooner because it looks so good and really character-driven. My mom was actually telling me about this book a while ago. Fantastic review, Lucy! <33
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    27 January, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    I’ve heard a lot about this book and I’ve been wanting to read it for quite some time. So I’m promising myself right now that I am going to pick this book up. Because I’m probably missing out!

    Thanks for another brilliant review Lucy! (and I hope you’re doing better, I hope you get your love for blogging back. It shouldn’t have you to the point of crying! Take your time to figure things out, and if you ever want to talk… You know where to find me!)

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    28 January, 2014 at 9:54 am

    I read this a couple of year ago and I think I’m overdue a reread!
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    Georgia Walters
    28 January, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    I’m really glad you enjoyed this, Lucy! 🙂 Catcher in the Rye does look brilliant, so I really need to look out for a copy soon. I hope I’m *not* asked to read it for class, though, because I end up disliking books we have to talk about in class, mainly because my class can’t hold book talks xD your review was awesome though so I really want to read this now! 🙂
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    Sophie (So Many Books, So Little Time)
    28 January, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    I REALLY need to read this. I just hope it’s not one of those books that I would have enjoyed more if I read it as a teenager!
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    Rachel @ Booktastic Reviews
    28 January, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Oooooh, intriguing! A book that’s very character driven?! I understand plot driven as I’ve read a few of those… but not character driven! I do want to pick this up, however – so thanks for the great review! 😀
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    3 February, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I hope you get to read more classics this year, Lucy! 😀
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    Emma Haughton
    5 February, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    One of my all time favourite novels. So glad you enjoyed it.

  • Reply
    Debbie @ Snuggling on the Sofa
    16 February, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    I don’t really read classics either, so maybe this is a good place to start! It’s also quite short 😛
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    Classics TBR Shortlist - Queen of Contemporary
    10 September, 2014 at 6:31 am

    […] I just haven’t read it myself yet… Oops? My favourite classics are the modern classics (The Catcher in the Rye, anyone?) so I’m sure I’ll get along fine with […]

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    5 Books That Changed My Life - Queen of Contemporary
    5 November, 2015 at 7:01 am

    […] It’s a book you either love or hate, and luckily I was one of the people who loved The Catcher in the Rye. I love how it voices realistic teenage feelings and I just want to give Holden Caulfield a big hug. It’s a book I really want to re-read soon, especially as it’s been a while since I read it. I reviewed it here. […]

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