It is said that if you read The Catcher in the Rye when you are sixteen it is one of the best books ever written. All I can say is that when I read it aged twenty-one it most certainly wasn’t. I know it’s the point of the novel, but there is nothing less interesting to my mind than reading about a monosyllabic teenager to whom every mood is explained as “I was feeling depressed.” I mean, come on! Surely sometimes you were feeling morose, or reflective, or teary, lonely, scared? I know this book is meant to speak to disenchanted youth the world over, but it said nothing to me.
It is not that this is a bad book. It’s just that without any sense of identifying with Holden Caulfield, this journey through a few weeks in his life becomes quite dull. He is dealing with pretty uniform problems, trying not to be ‘phoney,’ searching for meaning in the world, fighting off his looming breakdown, but these ideas are caught up in his inability to communicate himself to anyone. If I wanted to read this sort of language, I would go and stand outside some school gates or sit on a bus at 3.45 on a weekday.
If you are sixteen, then this is one of those books you just have to read. If you want to try to remember what it is like to be sixteen, then this is one of those books you just have to read. But I can’t say I liked it all that much.
5 out of 10