Book review: The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

If you were to ask someone for some classic novels, I can guarantee that The Catcher in the Rye would be one of the first five books to cross anyone’s mind. I have tasked myself with reading a number of these classic novels, and this was the book I began with.

From the moment I started reading this book, I didn’t want to put it down. I have never read a novel written in such a way, and it was simply captivating. There are so many good things I can say about this book, – and I’ll get to those shortly – but also many bad things to go with them. However, these bad things are mostly are mostly things I disliked, and aren’t so much bad at all.

One of the most interesting and enjoyable things about this book, for me, is that there is essentially no story to it; and yet there kind of is. You see, there is no plot, nor hook, nor twists and turns with this book, yet there is still a flowing series of events occurring in a linear fashion. There is also no reason for this story to exist, and it is more like a diary entry than a story being told. It simply revolves around an ordinary person’s life, and ordinary life events.

It was also interesting to read a book in this setting. It is not very often you come across a 1950’s book set in New York, from the point of view of an average adolescent. The book explores many different parts and sides of its scenery; introducing new places, different types of characters, and an all together variety of things.

The struggling character of Holden Caulfield gives almost-to-all readers something to relate to, as the different aspects of his character are things that so many people can share in. However, unlike with most other books, I don’t feel that is a huge reason for this book’s major success.

One of the things I do consider a root of its success is the book’s sheer originality. This book has so many things to call its own, and they are what really make this book so appealing.

One thing that was not appealing, however, was the character of Holden Caulfield. I despise him! While at times he can be okay, the rest of the time he is the most cynical, boring, cowardly, hypocritical character I have ever read about. Although, he is not the only character in the book, and some others are actually very likable. Mr Antolini, for example, is my favorite character.

It is hard to comment on the language of this book, because it is written in such a unique way, and although it is repetitive and poorly written, this – I feel – was the intention of the author, as it matches themes, and captures the book’s essence, and so it is technically both poorly and well written, at the same time. I also have to take in consideration the era the book is set in, and that the writing styles were different back then; though this was interesting, as it introduced me to a wider vocabulary, and a new writing style.

One the other hand, there are certain things that I didn’t enjoy about the way this book is written. The main thing being how Holden talks about his little sister. Whether it is intended, or this is just my perception of it – he seems to speak about her in a kind of sexual way, and he revers her very abnormally for a little sister.

It is clear that this book has made its mark on the world of literature, as there are some recent books, that have obviously taken snippets, ideas, characters, and styles from this book. Take The Fault in Our Stars. The very theme of it is clearly connected with that of this book – you’ll see what I mean if you read them both. And Perks of Being a Wallflower is simply dripping in this book’s juices. Something I found in particular was that Mr Anderson from Perks, is essentially the same character as Mr Antolini, and they both have a similar relationship with the main character. I feel this is why I enjoyed them both so much.

Another fascinating part to this book is that, you never really learn anything about what the character looks like, and similar things to that; and yet Salinger still manages to create a vivid picture in your mind. He doesn’t even use many descriptions of the scenery, or of other characters.

Two final remarks on things that annoyed me… *SPOILER* He never actually phoned Jane, and I was kind of hoping throughout the entire book that he would.*SPOILER OVER* I also feel the ending was very abrupt, and although it is meant to leave unanswered questions and such, *cough* Perks *cough* Fault* I feel it left too many.

I could go on and on about this book – there is so much to write about. I see why schools use this book for students; and I definitely see why this book is a classic novel. Even though it has its downsides, the overall book is amazing. It is original, funny, and utterly brilliant. I honestly recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

I give it a 3.9/5 for entertainment

and 4.7/5 for its literary review


7 thoughts on “Book review: The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

  1. Book Guy Reviews

    Great review! Thanks for sharing! If you haven’t already, I recommend checking out Salinger’s documentary free on Netflix (it’s awesome–he was crazy). If you’re ever interested in some other great reviews and musings, be sure to follow! Thanks!!!


    1. Josh Hart Post author

      Glad you liked it!:) Oh so I wasn’t the only person in the world to have not read it then?😄 It’s really good, I hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think, once you’ve read it:)


  2. butwhatdidyouexpect

    I finished it today and I thought it was pretty good, although I might actually go crazy if someone says “goddam” any time soon. :’) Holden wasn’t my favourite character, but I found myself empathising with him quite a bit. Also, I liked a lot of what Mr Antolini had to say, but his behaviour was a little odd. Just out of interest, have you read Submarine by Joe Dunthorne? It’s also been compared to TCITR.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Josh Hart Post author

      Hahaha, it is kinda overused, isn’t it? I loved Mr Antolini, I thought he was so philisophical, and really nice and genuine. I haven’t, no. I may check it out, once I work my way through my excessive TBR pile!

      Liked by 1 person


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