The Catcher in the Rye is one of the most famous American novels. Set in the late 1940’s, it’s narrated by Holden Caulfield, a young boy who has just been expelled from school. In the novel, we follow Holden the days after his expulsion as he heads back home to New York City. In these few days, he tries to understand adolescence and tries to come to terms with his impending adulthood.
As you can probably tell from the photo of my slightly battered copy, I’ve read Catcher in the Rye before. I first read it three years ago; I’m pretty sure it was the first “coming of age” novel I read. I did enjoy it the first time I read it, but, to be honest, I think a lot of the themes and symbols went over my head. Being a little older now, and having studied A level literature for two years, I enjoyed it so much more this time, as I found myself identifying with Holden a lot more. I also really loved Salinger’s colloquial writing style, and some of the imagery in this book is just brilliant.
I will say that this book isn’t for everyone; it’s one of the most banned books in high schools, and received a lot of negative reception when it was first released, mainly due to the strong language and mature themes. Holden’s character is also, quite frankly, irritating, and I did find myself cringing at times at some of the things he said and did. But in my opinion, this makes him that much more real and relatable; he’s the epitome of an angsty teenager trying to find their way in the world.
Whilst I think that Catcher in the Rye is a great book for teenagers, I’d probably recommend it more to older teens/young adults, just because I found it more relatable when I was that little bit older, and I definitely enjoyed it more the second time around.
If you’ve read The Catcher in the Rye, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! I’d also love to hear about your favourite coming of age novels, as I’d love to read some more! 🙂