Maybe I'm just a sucker. Maybe I was just looking for something to believe in. Or maybe the cynics need to just get over themselves because this was THE BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ. There, I said it. The Road has been dethroned and The Giver falls off my top ten list. It's disgusting, I know it is, but it is what it is. Okay, okay, I've talked myself outta that. I'll make it number 11 because it's my list, people think it's weird enough that I have this list, and no one is going to really care anyway. Um.
Salinger uses the English language in a way I've never seen. He makes a sixteen year old boy (seventeen as the narrator) who is both perceptive and insensitive into an endearing character. Holden Caulfield narrates the days following his expulsion from a young men's preparatory school. He comes from a family that is well-off, but he makes it clear that he doesn't buy into the lifestyle (even though he kinda does). Holden describes anyone who is not true to themselves as a 'phony', which he believes is everyone, except maybe his little sister, Phoebe who he is enamored with. Ya know, it's funny, Salinger manages to take this self-involved young man and make him endearing. Also, I could totally relate to Holden. Feeling lost, feeling distant, feeling depressed, on the verge of being clinically insane. Sorry to be vague here folks, but totally been there. I have been through all the emotions Holden went through. He is not an icon to teens because he's cool and rebellious. He is an icon because he is every teen.
Some things that struck me while reading The Catcher in the Rye:
Salinger gives Holden an everyday sort of language. This made it all real. The book is complex in occurrences, yet simply prolific in message. Strange thoughts of death, protecting children, bashing phonies...
I believe some people will get nothing more than annoyance out of this book. Yay, good for you, you have your life together and don't have time for the shenanigans of hopeless teenagers. Good for you. The rest of us though, the rest of us need this book. I NEEDED this book.
I needed someone to say the things most other people don't have the guts to do.
I needed someone to want to protect my childhood innocence.
I needed someone to keep me from falling off the cliff.
I needed my own catcher.