H is for Holden Caulfield

OK, so this is the first of the alphabetic series where the letter of the alphabet does not represent a key word in the title of the work. I knew I’d have a hard time finding great classics with Q, J, X, and other high-value Scrabble tiles, so I began the naming exception with the Catcher in the Rye. I read this at least a month ago, but completely forgot to post my mini review until now. Oops!

I have no idea how long it’s been since I first picked up J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye as a teen. I know that then I read it multiple times, but at this age several decades later I couldn’t tell you a thing about the thin plot until I re-read it, realizing only afterward that the story has very little plot to begin with. It’s not the traditional good-versus-evil or boy-gets-girl-loses-girl-and-gets-girl-again story; rather it tells the tale of a complete loser, Holden Caulfield, who finally gets an inkling of a clue and a small sense of responsibility. The controversy that revolved around the banning of the book from libraries and reading lists did nothing more than spotlight the book and eventually make it required reading. Without that, I believe that despite the well-written passages the book would have faded into obscurity. It’s just not that special.

That said, the subtle message of finally stepping up to the bat and doing what’s right and not necessarily what’s easy could be good for older teens, those capable of responsibly dealing with the sexually mature passages and concepts. With høøkërs, alcohol, violence, and frank talk about sex, the Catcher in the Rye isn’t the next step from Nancy Drew. I don’t think my 15-year-old daughter is ready for it yet, unfortunately her age being the age at which schools today begin to read the book. Or, yet better said, maybe I’m not ready for her to pick it up, a throwback to the paranoid morals of yesteryear…