“I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible.” Holden Caulfield takes the reader from post-World War II prep school to the seedy streets of New York City in this 1951 classic story. He also takes along his dry sense of humor and a spree of breaking each “rule” he comes across. Sure, Catcher in the Rye has been taught in every school, even around the globe. This reviewer spent time in an English classroom in Berlin that discussed some of the beginning chapters. The German kids oohed at their new word to describe the book’s tone: “sarcasm.”
Holden tries to act older than his age, and not only with smoking, drinking, and promiscuity (in his head he’s a “sex maniac,” but can never act on it). He manages to roam the streets of New York and avoid the safe haven of his parents’ home all the while. Not only are his encounters full of rebellious energy, but Holden slowly unveils a charming, though extremely dark, vulnerability. The Catcher in the Rye is often paired with F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby as two great 20th Century American tales, but no book tops this one’s story of the thrills and frustrations of being trapped inside the teenage years.
Reviewed by CH.
Themes: BROTHERS AND SISTERS. HUMOR. SCHOOLS.
Back Bay Books, 2001, c1954
Suggested Ages: 14 and Up