Welcome back for another review! I recently read this book as it’s been on my list for ages, and then my Dad got it for my birthday so I was finally pushed into giving it a go.
‘Catcher in the Rye’ follows the story of Holden Caulfield, a young boy who has recently been expelled from his high class boarding school, Pencey, and must go home to tell his parents the news. Set in 1940s America, the book starts from when Holden is first expelled from school, and follows his life for several days. Throughout there are subtle hints that Holden may be now in some kind of mental institute, from which he is telling the story. Holden’s narrative perspective is dry, honest and negative, and he looks out with a very cynical viewpoint on the frivolity and seeming superficiality of his society.
I really enjoyed this book. It was really easy to read and I liked the narrative from Holden. Angsty and honest, he showed the reader some of the flaws of his society, shedding light on the superficiality of people and I thought his cynical viewpoint was one which was interesting to read, even if sometimes he came across as a bit negative. I read this book so fast because of its easy style and I can see why it is considered a modern classic, often compared to ‘The Bell Jar‘ in its honest portrayal of society’s issues, as well as using the voice of a young protagonist.
As well as Holden’s views on issues such as sex, relationships and alcohol, I also enjoyed following his adventures in New York, supposedly hating the company of other people, and yet also appearing desperate not to be alone, so much so that he even attempts to sleep with a prostitute. In this way, by revealing both the flaws in Holden’s characters and his perceived flaws of society, the reader can see how he is on the path to a breakdown.
I also liked the setting of this book. Anything in a historical setting is interesting to me, but the representation of New York society, both glamorous and far from perfect, was easy to immerse myself in.
One of the things I didn’t like about the book was that it seemed to not really go anywhere. I enjoyed the book, but I think it was more about Holden’s outlook and narrative, rather than the action in the book, which I enjoyed. His perspective was the thing that interested me, and I would still recommend it, particularly for fans of ‘The Bella Jar.’
Have you read this book? What did you think? Are you a fan of coming-of-age tales? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
Picture credits here