A Book Review for Merion Readers: The Catcher in the Rye


Jessica Link, Staff Writer

Over the summer, Ms. Shield’s American Literature class read many books; J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye stood out to me. This classic book remains relevant despite its 1950s publication due to its timeless message. After mentioning it to my dad, he said, “That may be my favorite book. I felt that the main character was very flawed, but relatable, especially to the person I was in high school.”

Salinger’s writing style allows readers to put themselves in the protagonist’s shoes—or red hunting cap. He presents valuable insights about life and people through his characters. Teenager Holden Caulfield struggles with personal identity and finding a purpose. After receiving a notice that he has failed out of school due to lack of effort, he travels to New York City. He reflects on his childhood while meeting characters interesting and ordinary. Holden is both immature and old for his age; throughout the story, he has difficulty finding a balance between the innocence of his past and the maturity required to make decisions for the future. He repeatedly expresses a hatred for “phonies,” people who are fake or dishonest in their actions. Ironically, Holden is often untruthful himself.

Readers get a glimpse of Holden’s more vulnerable side through his relationship with his younger sister Phoebe and his burning questions, both random and innocent. Through his curiosity, you are made to wonder about that which you’ve never questioned before, even such things as where ducks go in the winter. Generally, teenagers best feel a connection to Holden and his raw viewpoint on the world. However, people of all ages can relate to him. After all, growing up and learning how to be human is difficult for everyone. After telling others the story of his adventure, Holden ponders, “It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody” (Salinger 234).