BOOK REVIEW: The Catcher In The Rye – by J.D. Salinger


Title: The Catcher In The Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Genre: Classics, Fiction, YA
First published: 1951
Finished reading: February 7th 2015
Pages: 277
Rating 3,5

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”


The Catcher In The Rye is not only a classic, but also one of the many banned books out there. I never had to read it at school (the focus was mainly on Dutch literature), so when I saw a copy I thought it was about time to read this classic. Now I have, I’m not sure what to think of it. Sure, the prose itself is good and goes together perfectly with the main character, even if he is not exactly likeable. Holden Caulfield comes over as a spoiled brat who swears too much rather than the ‘cynical adolescent’ J.D. Salinger supposedly was aiming for. I don’t mind swearing as long as it adds to the story, but in this case ‘goddam‘ is mentioned way too many to be taken seriously. That said, with the slang Holden uses throughout the novel, Salinger has created a colorful language that can be offensive even nowadays; probably one of the reasons The Catcher In The Rye is still on the banned books list. There is no real plot development; the novel seems to be about Holden’s inner thoughts rather than actions. Which in a way is interesting because he is a total nutcase. Still, I’m having mixed thoughts with this one, and I’m not sure whether to recommend it. I suppose it will be an interesting read if you don’t mind the swearing and don’t take the story too seriously.


Holden Caulfield has just been expelled from yet another prep school, and he doesn’t know what to do with his life. He doesn’t want his parents to find out yet and he is afraid to go home before the Christmas holidays start, so he decides to stay in a hotel in New York for a few days. Being a teenager alone isn’t easy in New York, especially if you are Holden. He hates all the ‘phonies’ out there and doesn’t seem to be able to escape them in the big city. We follow Holden on his days in New York where he goes from hotel to hotel, dates a girl, goes to bars and tries to visit his younger sister without his parents finding out. But more than that, it is a journey inside his head where we learn more about his thoughts, problems and vision on life in general.


The plot itself is extremely uneventful and I cannot say I liked the main character. Still, Salinger was able to create something special with Holden. Even if he is a complete nutcase who swears more frequently than he talks, Holden does show us what it is like not knowing what to do with his life and being unhappy with his life as it is. I guess The Catcher In The Rye has to be seen as a little journey inside a (messed up) teenager’s head and has to be read that way to be enjoyed. Maybe next time, if I decide to to a reread some day…

27 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: The Catcher In The Rye – by J.D. Salinger

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    • I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would though, but that might be because I was expecting something completely different… And I guess forced reading doesn’t help either. Happy reading to you as well! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I can understand that haha. I think the best way of starting this book is to be prepared for a story that is mostly about the inner thoughts of a messed up teenager and doesn’t have a lot of action going on… And not to take the story too seriously. That way you’ll enjoy The Catcher In The Rye probably better than I did. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I also have similar feelings towards this book. I know it’s not about the plot but about the emotional turmoil within the main character, and I know the swearing is just supposed to emphasize his immaturity and his youth, but I found it a bit too much. I understand what he was going for but I just don’t enjoy reading it. Like you I didn’t hate it but I will not reach for it anytime soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, that sounds about right. I understand were Salinger was going with this novel, but I just couldn’t enjoy the ride. The Catcher In The Rye won’t be appearing on any favorite classics list for sure! 😉


  8. I read this as a teenager, then again a couple of years ago, but I’ve never understood how it’s earned “classic” status. The one thing I do recall about it was he was the first unreliable narrator I’d come across, and I like an unreliable narrator – but not Holden! I’d no idea it was banned either; it isn’t in the UK, as far as I’m aware. I found it quite dated too – “goddamn” isn’t really a swear word nowadays (although my mum regards God, damn, hell, Christ, all as swear words! Very old fashioned nowadays!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it is quite hard to believe The Catcher In The Rye reached the classic status, especially when it shares the title with so many great classics out there. I’ve seen it on the US banned books list, but it could be that it’s not banned in other countries. The only ‘problem’ that could lead to banning would be the constant swearing, so it depends on the sensitivity of the people judging the books. And I guess the language is still offensive nowadays, although only with the older generations… Trends in offensive words change all the time, it’s hard to keep up with them. 😉


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