Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME

The Catcher in the Rye

What? You haven't already read this book?!?! Yes, I know, I know. I waited until twenty to read The Catcher in the Rye

. I'll be honest. I've been faking having read this book for a long, long time. About six years really. At fourteen everyone just started to assume I had already read it. I had the book too! I got it for Christmas. The Catcher in the Rye is just one of those books that you can get by with not reading. You can pretty much pretend you know everything about it without ever reading it. So, if I feel this way about the book, why did I decide to read it? Because I just hate being a faker, which is why I'm watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind right now. I know! I've never seen it! Moving on...

When I told everyone I was going to read The Catcher in the Rye everyone just kind of shrugged in a way that made me think the whole experience was going to be a huge waste of time. "That book is just for disenchanted teenagers" someone told me. Well you know what, I must be a disenchanted teenager (still?) because I really liked the book. Everyone goes on about how Holden Caufield is an unreliable narrator and blah blah blah, but I think that Holden Caufield just does what we all pretty much do all the time. We kind of make up things to make sense of the world. And I think Holden is great, because he just says what he wants to. It's true, not a whole lot happens in this book. He starts out at a school, comes home and doesn't actually go to his house because he doesn't want his parents to know he got kicked out of school, has an encounter with a prostitute who he won't sleep with. All the while you're wondering how much of this is actually true, because he continuously contradicts himself and what teenage boy really has all of that up his sleeve.

I just love J.D. Salinger though. In my opinion, he has got American adolescent minds down to a science. The desire to be something wonderful and amazing and different, but that absolute confusion in figuring out how to do this. And then he turns it into a story, where you're engaged by the characters without really even liking them. Which is what adolescence kind of is, honestly. You're engaging with people without really liking any of them all that much and you're just waiting for your "real" friends to come along. Your "cool" friends. But now I've discovered that in my life my high school friends are some of my real friends, I hang out with them all the time. And so maybe that is why I liked The Catcher in the Rye. Because I could look at it and kind of smirk at Holden Caufield, as maybe a little bit of something that I once was.

I'm giving this book an A (to the great amazement of all the naysaysers out there!)

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The Catcher in the Rye + TIME