Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date read: May, 2000
Read count: 3
This is one of my “favorite” books that I can’t bring myself to rate highly. The word favorite is in parentheses because this book still confuses me to this day, like it was meant to.
When I read this book for the first time, I read it on my own and I loved it immediately. It spoke of adolescence and the struggles of adolescence in an honest, distant, and somewhat hostile way that I didn’t find in other books that had a teenager as narrator and main character. It was as though Salinger was a teenager himself when he wrote these thoughts down and it wasn’t until he was older that he was able to put said thoughts together in a book.
Then, I read this book again for a class in high school and found myself liking it less when I learned more about the context–time period, sociopolitical climate–in which it was written. The book lost some its honesty that I used to find so compelling and Holden’s inner personal thoughts read more like the usual teenage rebellion fare. Everything was dripping with too much irony.
And then, I read it again for a book club in college with a great group of people of varying ages and experiences and we ended up focusing on Salinger’s experiences in the second World War and how he might have been suffering from post-traumatic stress when he wrote this book. And the thought that Holden could have been Salinger’s manifestation of grief and loss kind of leveled my views of the whole book. These book club discussions gave me new ways to look at Salinger, Holden, and the book itself, and I appreciated it again, but it was quite some time before I started liking it again.
Original review can be found here