The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

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“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”

— J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

    Everyone is a goddamn phony. It’s almost impossible to finish this book without having that sentence engraved in your thoughts, forever. The Catcher in the Rye was one of my most surprising reading experiences yet. It’s not your conventional young adult story. It is a book that has known censorship before embracing immense fame. It’s popularity grew at an exponential speed and ended up getting incredible praise among teenagers. How? It was all in Holden Caufield, the protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye, and how so many adolescents were able to relate with him. This story is a glimpse into the life of Holden Caufield. He narrates the events, one after the other, and puts forth his entire thought process in black and white. After learning that he once again got kicked out of high school, Holden Caufield decides to follow his gut feeling and takes a trip to New York City. Through these events, readers uncover a child who’s simply falling into adulthood. In this story marinating in a theme of coming of age, Holden Caufield is an elegy for adolescents. It’s through his confusion, his angst, his pain, his pleasures and his desires that we see his struggle to remain a child, yet swimming in a world of adults.

    As I was reading, I thought I was going to end up hating this book. Everything about it seemed to be paving the way for the hate to roar out of me. There’s no exposition, there’s no climax, there’s no denouement and there’s no ending. The whole book is a sequence of actions told through the voice of Holden Caufield and his particular writing style. His hypocritical behavior, his cynicism, his repetitive language, his sarcasm, his swearing and his ability to digress are all there to strain you and build your patience for this character. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you the number of times he might have gotten on my nerves. Just his abusive use of “that killed me” would give me a brain aneurysm. Although it was somehow compelling to read about Caufield’s thoughts on a person or on a thing in particular, you always felt like he wasn’t leading you anywhere. His ability to digress is absolutely stunning. He could see a person at a bar and end up bringing you on a journey through memory lane. It’s only after finishing The Catcher in the Rye that it hit me. I actually did enjoy this. I actually did appreciate the thoughts of Holden Caufield and the way J.D. Salinger delivered this cynical child’s story. I actually did understand what Holden Caufield was going through. I felt like I had told parts of my own childhood to him and fell in this trap of getting attached to him. In the end, Holden Caufield was right. “Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

    Holden Caufield is without a doubt the biggest phony out there. But why he is such a person is where things become so much more interesting. There isn’t a moment throughout the book that you won’t see him pointing fingers to every phony out there. Even in today’s society, there’s no denying the number of people who put on a farce and pretend to be someone they’re not or say things that they don’t honestly believe in. Even if Holden Caufield is able to see through these people, making it even more obvious that his adulthood is catching up to him, he does the exact same thing throughout the book. In fact, he blatantly admits to being one of the biggest liars out there. But it’s this irony and this contradiction that makes his adolescent self so intriguing. The way he perceives life brings him to alienate himself from the world and not bother with people who can’t stay true to themselves. In fact, I found that Holden is a strong believer of talking from the heart, of saying things that bring your excitement and leaves you in a peaceful trance. But what he believes and what he does are two completely different things, since he too has difficulties expressing himself or even a disinterest to do so. Holden Caufield is a very complex character who’s easily seen by many readers as a rebel who doesn’t want to do things that he doesn’t feel like doing. His desire to live in the present and to do things that simply pop into his mind makes his adventures so spontaneous.

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    It’s heartwarming to see Holden Caufield want to preserve the childhood of every kid out there. Without explicitly saying so, you can tell from his behaviors and beliefs that it is something very important for him, especially when he’s starting to realize that he had already fallen off the cliff. His wish to be that person to stop others from falling off the cliff into adulthood is something that can easily strike a chord among readers. Even if Holden Caufield remains the biggest phony in this story, he somehow managed to make me like the guy. The Catcher in the Rye has been a controversial novel that has managed to join the list of banned books in history. It’s depiction of a cynical teenager who tackles themes of sexuality, drinking, profanity and many other things has made this a book that could stir the morals and values of a lot of individuals. Just to make it even more shocking, I’ve read that this book has even made the headlines alongside killers. The biggest story related to The Catcher in the Rye is the death of John Lennon. Mark David Chapman, the infamous killer who took Lennon’s life, was arrested with a copy of this book bought on the same day he killed him. Inside the book he left this note: “To Holden Caufield, From Holden Caufield. This is my statement.” Now, is being able to relate to the character a good or bad thing? I’ll let you find out.


There isn’t any directors out there who have attempted to adapt this book onto the big screen. It would definitely have been way too complicated. In fact, it would have most likely failed to capture the essence of this book (especially the narration). However, there was a movie that was recently released that draws inspiration from the book and even includes the author into the story. I haven’t seen it however. If you have, let me know what you thought about it!

Are you interested in The Catcher in the Rye?
You are, you say?
How about you read this book for yourself!
You can purchase your copy @Amazon Canada or @Chapters Indigo now!
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★☆/

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38 thoughts on “The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

  1. notsomoderngirl says:

    I really want to try this book as it is seen as a similar type of novel to ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath (which I recently reviewed, don’t know whether you’ve checked that book out) and it seems really interesting. Great review, think I’m going to try and pick up a copy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    I don’t know.. this is one that has been on my list forever and never quite makes it to the top. I am absolutely the worst with classics. Unless it is sci-fi 😉 But maybe this is the year that I give Catcher a fair go. You are too convincing. My TBR cannot afford you much longer..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ichabod2014ic says:

    Gee, I read this, long, long ago… I remember liking it at the time, but honestly, I am not sure if I would still like it or not.
    Thanks for taking me down memory lane.
    ~Icky. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan and Trang (Bookidote) says:

      Totally understand! A lot of people believe that the charm of this book comes from your ability to relate and understand the character and a lot of people who have re-read it a couple years later ended up having a… completely different opinion of Holden Caufield. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. Always appreciate it! 😀

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Great review for this book Lashaan. It sounds like a really interesting one especially considering that it doesn’t have a conventional story; no exposition, no climax, etc. but it’s great you enjoyed this one despite thinking you wouldn’t at first. It must have been brilliantly written as well if you still ended up liking Holden despite his negative traits as well.
    Do you plan on watching Coming through the Rye one day? The trailer looks interesting and I guess if you enjoyed this book you may enjoy the film inspired by it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan and Trang (Bookidote) says:

      Thanks Beth! It was really unusual. Holden Caufield can be very annoying and just the way he narrates it (a lot of repetition, swearing, etc.) doesn’t help your case much. Somehow, it’s when you start to see why he is who he is that things lighten up when it comes down to what you think about him. However, a lot of people easily and simply hate the character and the book before of how he is though. It’s truly a unique book that will not please everyone, but that a lot of people have read!

      I might give Coming Through the Rye a shot some day (maybe if it shows up on Netflix hihih), but then again, I don’t find it very necessary since it’s not an adaptation of the book (which would have made me a lot more interested hahah). Thank you again for checking out my review and for sharing your thoughts! 😀

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

        That’s all right. It sounds like the author must have had some amazing character development in this novel to be able to make people still connect with Holden’s character in that case. Especially after how he is at the beginning. Still I can also see how other people didn’t like him too.
        Well if you do ever decide to watch it I hope you enjoy it, maybe if it does show up on Netflix one day! 😀
        That’s all right. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Donna says:

    Fab review! I think I must have taken it off the library four times and never found the time to read it! But I feel my interest flaring with this review and next time, I’ll make the effort to actually read the book, haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. LizScanlon says:

    fantastic review!!! TCITR was required reading for me in school… and that was ages ago but back then I thought I had understood the book. I really want to reread this and your review makes me want to read it again sooner rather than later. fabulous job on the review and you pose a good question at the end…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan and Trang (Bookidote) says:

      Thank you so much Liz! 😀 I’m so happy to hear that my review kindled your interest to reread it now. I’d honestly would want to try to reread this in a decade to see if my thoughts would be the same or not. Holden Caufield is one helluva fascinating character. Like many have pointed out. You either love or hate the guy. And I believe it all comes down to how much you can relate to his way of seeing life.

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Emily | Rose Read says:

    This is such a beautiful, thoughtful review. Catcher is such a great book and you hit the nail on the head about Holden. I, too, was surprised at how much I liked it. I think I liked it even better after watching the Crash Course episodes on it (which I recommend on YouTube if you haven’t seen them!). I hadn’t even heard of that movie but now I’m totally going to see if I can check it out! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan and Trang (Bookidote) says:

      Oh man, thank you Emily for your kind words! I’m quite glad to hear about another person who has felt the same way about Holden. It really was astonishing when I started to think about it. I haven’t seen the Crash Course episode you speak of, but now I will definitely check it out! As for the movie, I haven’t seen it myself, but I’m curious to know the thoughts of people who have or will check it out. I didn’t plan on checking it out the first time I had heard about it because it wasn’t a direct adaptation of the book, but rather the story of a boy who seems to like the fictional character of Holden Caufield like we did and seeks out the author for enlightenment. Thanks again for checking out my review and dropping off your thoughts on it, I really appreciate it! 😀

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

  8. thebookcorps says:

    Great review!

    This book is one of my favourite books of all time. I agree with you that I too thought I was going to hate it, but then all of a sudden – and I don’t know when it happened – I began to love it. It’s a unique novel and I am unable to explain its hold on me or other readers.

    Did you know that the guy who shot John Lennon started reading this book after he killed Lennon. And the man who tried to kill Ronald Reagan had a copy of the book in his pocket. There’s something about this book that affects people in strange ways, and that has a lot to do with Holden.

    Also, the reason there’s no Catcher in the Rye movie, is because the author refuses to sell the rights. Which is a shame, but after 2 people were triggered by his book to kill someone, you can’t blame the guy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan and Trang (Bookidote) says:

      Thank you!! It is odd right? I too can’t recall the moment I started to feel attached to the book, but I know that the last sentence did wonders in making me realize that I did not hate The Catcher in the Rye.

      Oh yes, I do mention the whole John Lennon thing at the end of my review! A couple of other killers have also had this book among their book collection, making The Catcher in the Rye so notorious.

      I’ve heard about the whole rights to the book thing, and how J.D. Salinger wanted to make a play out of the book where HE would be playing Holden Caufield. However, I think I’ve read somewhere that he left a deathnote or in his will that he would like the book to be turned into a movie, but I didn’t read into too much. I might be wrong about that too! However, I still think this book would probably not turn out too great as a movie since the charm is in the narration!

      Thank you again for checking out my review and for sharing your thoughts with me! I really appreciate it! 😀

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

  9. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    I’m so, so glad you liked this book!! It is really divisive- but ultimately I ended up loving it (even if I also thought I wouldn’t). and I agree that Holden is a phoney, but he’s such a complex character and he is growing up in the story so I could still relate to him (even as I loved hating him a little). Weird about the book and its connection to assassinating presidents- kind of creepy- but I don’t think it’s actually got anything to do with the book (maybe if it had been a dodgier book like Lolita or a scarier one like Turn of the Screw 😉 ) Anyway, odd tangent, great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan and Trang (Bookidote) says:

      Awesome! I’m glad to hear from someone who ended up loving it when they thought they wouldn’t! It’s such an odd effect, I must say! I can pretty much swear that I have never had that happen before. Holden is definitely complex, and I really like the growing up part of him. It’s like he’s in this paradox and is trying hard to hold onto everything related to innocence, yet getting sucked into adulthood. As for the connection between killers and this book, I’m also not a fan of the connection. While the John Lennon death shows a killer that actually wanted to make his assassination connected to the ideals that Holden represented, ultimately, I don’t believe the book is what created the killers. It would be disappointing if a student doing his master’s in criminology blindly agrees to such statements after all! 😀 Anyways, those killers were heavily media-tized and there’s nothing like adding fuel to the fire and creating more controversies/stories on things that make the news! 😛

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

  10. lostartofreadingblog says:

    Great review. I read this one actually just a couple of months ago and did up a review, and I landed in the hate it group. I see where you are coming from for sure. But he just drove me nuts the whole time. I do really like to see other peoples opinions on books though.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. TheThingsILearnt says:

    I read this book last year.. And I liked it so much.. I like the language a lot, the way this book has been written. It is like talking to Holden Caulfield and also the kind of relationship he has with his little sister..

    nice review! Thanks !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan and Trang (Bookidote) says:

      Yasss! It is indeed a unique and really well written book. The relationship between Holden and his sister was so cute too. He really wants her to keep the innocence she still possesses and doesn’t want to be the cause of its loss. Thank you so much for checking out my review!! Really appreciate it! 😀

      – Lashaan

      Liked by 1 person

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