Let me start this review off by stating I have never been and will never be a rich and angsty teenage boy. With that information, take my review on this book with a grain of salt.
I was, like most people, an angsty teenager, so I’m not totally perspective-less on this book that focuses on Holden Caulfield, a young boy who struggles with depression and social connection.
This story follows one weekend in Holden Caulfield’s life, beginning at the boarding school he attends and $180 (worth over $2,000 today) and ending in New York City with zero dollars. The story doesn’t have a lot of action in it, but it focuses more on Holden’s interactions with people. He tries to fight his roommate who went on a date with a girl Holden was interested in. He asks strangers whether the ducks in the Central Park lagoon migrate during the winter. He calls up an old flame.
The entire book reads like a very in-depth and interesting journal entry.
This is a book I’ve read twice, once as a teenager and once as an adult. Teenage me hated this book and hated the protagonist, blaming him for the issues that I felt he was creating for himself. Adult me approached it with a little more grace, realizing that I was also not the easiest person to deal with when I was 16 years old. Now I understand how well J.D. Salinger captures the teenage experience, an age where you’re starting to realize how awful people and society can be, but also at an age where you don’t have the experience or knowledge or resources to do anything about it.
It’s been 10 years since that first reading, and I’m still young and inexperienced but the wisest person in the world compared to who I was then.
Not everything is taken as a personal insult, and I understand there are unique experiences and universal experiences that contribute to people’s actions. Those were two things I knew as a teenager but didn’t really understand, which seems to be Holden Caulfield’s problem.
If you’re in the mood to get in touch with your inner adolescent, this is the book for you. I like to think that the character grew up to be a happy and well-rounded adult and that the issues that he faces in this book are just symptoms of his age.
It’s nice to think that anyone can grow from that and maybe there’s always a little growing to do.
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