Customer Reviews

4,006 Reviews
5 star:
4 star:
3 star:
2 star:
1 star:
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review

1,482 of 1,623 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliantly Unique Look at a Universal Problem
In J.D. Salinger's brilliant coming-of-age novel, Holden Caulfield, a seventeen year old prep school adolescent relates his lonely, life-changing twenty-four hour stay in New York City as he experiences the phoniness of the adult world while attempting to deal with the death of his younger brother, an overwhelming compulsion to lie and troubling sexual...
Published on July 21, 2000

110 of 138 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Yeah, yeah, but...
I know this book is "it", and there is a lot of blather from ecstatic readers about universal coming of age and a rueful sadness at loss of innocence. Okay, fine. It's in there. I laughed a couple or three times, and I even recall a good belly laugh. Good. And obviously there is Salinger's gift for spoken language and keen insightfulness regarding social peccadilloes and...
Published on August 22, 2006 by seer

‹ Previous | 1 2401 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

1,482 of 1,623 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliantly Unique Look at a Universal Problem, July 21, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Mass Market Paperback)
In J.D. Salinger's brilliant coming-of-age novel, Holden Caulfield, a seventeen year old prep school adolescent relates his lonely, life-changing twenty-four hour stay in New York City as he experiences the phoniness of the adult world while attempting to deal with the death of his younger brother, an overwhelming compulsion to lie and troubling sexual experiences.
Salinger, whose characters are among the best and most developed in all of literature has captured the eternal angst of growing into adulthood in the person of Holden Caulfield. Anyone who has reached the age of sixteen will be able to identify with this unique and yet universal character, for Holden contains bits and pieces of all of us. It is for this very reason that The Catcher in the Rye has become one of the most beloved and enduring works in world literature.
As always, Salinger's writing is so brilliant, his characters so real, that he need not employ artifice of any kind. This is a study of the complex problems haunting all adolescents as they mature into adulthood and Salinger wisely chooses to keep his narrative and prose straightforward and simple.
This is not to say that The Catcher in the Rye is a straightforward and simple book. It is anything but. In it we are privy to Salinger's genius and originality in portraying universal problems in a unique manner. The Catcher in the Rye is a book that can be loved and understood on many different levels of comprehension and each reader who experiences it will come away with a fresh view of the world in which they live.
A work of true genius, images of a catcher in the rye are abundantly apparent throughout this book.
While analyzing the city raging about him, Holden's attention is captured by a child walking in the street "singing and humming." Realizing that the child is singing the familiar refrain, "If a body meet a body, comin' through the rye," Holden, himself, says that he feels "not so depressed."
The title's words, however, are more than just a pretty ditty that Holden happens to like. In the stroke of pure genius that is Salinger, himself, he wisely sums up the book's theme in its title.
When Holden, whose past has been traumatic, to say the least, is questioned by his younger sister, Phoebe, regarding what he would like to do when he gets older, Holden replies, "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'd 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."
In this short bit of dialogue Salinger brilliantly exposes Holden's deepest desire and expounds the book's theme. Holden wishes to preserve something of childhood innocence that gets hopelessly lost as we grow into the crazy and phony world of adulthood.
The theme of lost innocence is deftly explored by Salinger throughout the book. Holden is appalled when he encounters profanity scrawled on the walls of Phoebe's school, a school that he envisions protecting and shielding children from the evils of society.
When Holden gives his red hunting cap to Phoebe to wear, he gives it to her as a shield, an emblem of the eternal love and protectiveness he feels for her.
Near the beginning of the book, Holden remembers a girl he once knew, Jane Gallagher, with whom he played checkers. Jane, he remembers, "wouldn't move any of her kings," and action Holden realizes to be a metaphor of her naivete. When Holden hears that his sexually experienced prep school roommate had a date with Jane, he immediately starts a fight with him, symbolically protecting Jane's innocence.
More sophisticated readers might question the reasons behind Holden's plight. While Holden's feelings are universal, this character does seem to be a rather extreme example. The catalyst for Holden's desires is no doubt the death of his younger brother, Allie, a bright and loving boy who died of leukemia at the age of thirteen. Holden still feels the sting of Allie's death acutely, as well as his own, albeit undeserved, guilt, in being able to do nothing to prevent Allie's suffering.
The only reminder Holden has of Allie's shining but all-too-short life, is Allie's baseball mitt which is covered with poems Allie read while standing in the outfield. In a particularly poignant moment, Holden tells us that this is the glove he would want to use to catch children when they fall from the cliff of innocence.
In an interesting, but trademark, Salinger twist, Holden distorts the Robert Burns poem that provides the book's title. Originally, it read, "If a body meet a body, comin' through the rye." Holden distorts the word "meet" into "catch." This is certainly not the first time Holden is guilty of distortion; indeed he is a master at it.
This distortion, however, shows us how much Allie's death has affected Holden and also how much he fears his own fall from innocence, the theme that threads its way throughout the whole of the book.
By this amazing book's end, we must reach the conclusion that there are times when we all need a "catcher in the rye." We are, indeed, blessed if we have one.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

145 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping classic that will always be relevant, March 24, 2006
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Hardcover)
Time has not damaged this tome; it remains a sometimes harrowing, sometimes absorbing, sometimes frustrating, sometimes moving look into a mind in a state of disarray.

Others have written more "shocking" books or have been more overtly anti-social, but with The Catcher In The Rye, J.D. Salinger captures the bitterly confused mind of a youth who hates the whole world not because the world is worth hating, but because he's frustrated at his own inability to get along in that world, with such crisp reality that it shocks far more than any fantastical American Psycho.

Reading over the negative reviews on Amazon, I can't help but wonder how and why so many people are so unable to get it. The Catcher In The Rye is among the, if not the, most tangibly realistic looks into the mind of a disaffected, disillusioned youth suffering from depression (and a touch of the bipolar). The way Holden Caulfield's mind works is incredibly true to form - the contradictions, the hypocrisy, the confusion, the brief moments of sheer clarity followed by stretches of irrational thought. He thinks he's better than the world, and he thinks he's the lousiest person in the world at the same time. He wants everyone to go away and leave him alone, and he can't bear anyone, not even some schmuck he really dislikes (with good reason), to leave him. He's nothing but hypocrisy and contradictions and confusion. Salinger captures this in an amazing way.

People criticize the book because Caulfield is totally unlikable, a guy who rails against phonies when he himself is something of a phony ... but that's part of the point. Holden throws off all the signals someone in his situation actually throws off in real life, and just like real life, they're almost always ignored. Clearly this was a very, very autobiographical work for Salinger.

There are several moments when Caulfield, narrating in the first person, mentions offhandedly that he began to cry, he didn't know why, he felt like dying, and suddenly it went away and he felt invigorated with energy. It rings remarkably true. Who wrote this stuff with such honesty in 1951? Who tackled these issues, and in such a manner, in the 1950s?

The reason this has impact, though, is not simply because of the subject matter, not because of what Holden Caulfield is going through, and not because of the context of its time, but because Salinger never plays it for melodrama. He doesn't talk it up with purple prose or romanticize Caulfield's mentality or beat you over the head with ham-handed messages and platitudes. He neither makes Holden's mentality seem "cool" nor does he preach against Holden's attitude; he just says, "This is what it is." By presenting it in such a matter-of-fact manner, all in the first person, as if the narrator is simply telling you a story while having a few drinks, the whole thing is rooted in a very tangible, and therefore very disturbing, reality.

You and I KNOW Holden Caulfield. We've known that guy. And in The Catcher In The Rye, you get to peer inside his mind.

Even with dated references and slang and phrasings, I don't know that J.D. Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye will ever cease to be relevant and important.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

215 of 247 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Classic, July 5, 2001
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Mass Market Paperback)
It is difficult to remember what it was like to read this book for the first time. It is also difficult to imagine a book where each new reading provides so much more illumination into the main character and his personality. I can remember finding Catcher to be funny the first time I read it. I now alternately find Holden to be walking a fine line between witty sarcasm and dangerous cynicism. He is funny, there is no way around that, but his belittling nature also causes him to dismiss much from his life that may not be perfect, but should be included. There is nothing that he, in the end, does not dismiss as being phony, whether it is the nuns with whom he shares a cup of coffee, the teacher at the end who most likely was just trying to help, the Egyptian wing of the museum, Pheobe's school...everything. As soon as one little detail slips in which is not completely on track with what he is thinking whatever it is he is contemplating becomes useless, phony, not worth dealing with. His humor is sharp and witty and I often laugh out loud while reading, but it is also an easy way for him to detach himself from a world which he no longer feels he belongs in, or wants to belong in. I can remember finding the ending ambiguous the first time I read it. I now see it as the only way it could end, with Holden finding happiness watching his sister Pheobe going forever in circles, and being able to pretend that that is never going to change. She is the one thing in his life which he still deems worthy of existence, and placing her on a merry-go-round is his best attempt to keep her there. Things change and grow and move on, but Holden refuses to accept this and is yearning to stop things forever where they are, to go back to when D.B. was a writer full of dreams and Allie was still alive. He mentions once how he used to take field trips to the museum, but how it was never the same and that takes something away from it. Even if the exhibit was the same, YOU would be different, simply by having traveled a bit farther in life, and this is what Holden is incapable of dealing with. The ending is Holden trying to keep the one thing in his life he still truly loves exactly the way she is. I can remember finding Holden's journey to be a bit all over the place. I now can see that there is not a single detail which Salinger does not use to illuminate Holden. On Holden's last night at school everything is covered with snow. He stands there holding a snowball looking for something to throw it at, but he can not bring himself to throw his snowball and disturb a fire hydrant or a park bench. Everything is peaceful under the snow and Holden can not bring himself to alter this just as he can not handle a world that keeps changing. Or there is Holden's history class, which he is failing. The only topic he is remotely interested in is the Egyptians and their process of mummification. The only thing he cares about is how to preserve things just as they are. I can remember enjoying this book the first time I read it. But I had no idea that with each subsequent reading I would find more and more to enjoy, and more and more evidence of Salinger's genius.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

79 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless, honest, controversial, superbly written tale, June 1, 2000
B Michini (Plymouth Whitemarsh) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Mass Market Paperback)
Have you ever gotten fed up with the world? Have you ever just had enough of everybody's stupid, phony attitudes and this tainted game that we call life? You feel like you're all alone, there's no one that will listen to you, and the ones that do turn out to be perverts and phonies. Are they all crazy, or is it me?
This is the attitude that Holden Caulfield, a disgruntled 16 year-old, takes toward life. He's just flunked out of another school, his younger brother Allie is dead, he's a virgin, and to top it all off, everyone around him is a phony. Holden is alone in this superficial, corrupt world he lives in.
What amazes me most about A Catcher in the Rye is it's incredibly controversial beginnings when it was first published. The book took place and was published in the 1940's, and society was based on being right and proper. Things like hollow conversation just for the sake of conversing defined what Holden held as "phony". Holden hated phonies with a passion, and throughout the book made brutal, dead-on observations about the world which were stated in crude dialect. This caused much uprising in society, and was stereotyped as "evil" and "insignificant" by the common "phony" book reviewer of the time. Even serial killers were found with the book on them. Mark Chapman, the man who murdered John Lennon, was found with the book in his pocket after the crime. As you can imagine this didn't help the situation at all.
In the real world, evil was personified as Holden Caulfield. People reacted to the book just as people reacted to Holden in the novel. Holden was considered a rebellious, ungrateful, disrespectful teenager that, although rare, is a worldwide epidemic. But if you see past the narrow-minded view that people tend to look through, the book is a testament that this rebellious teenager is a person. The book shows that Holden, although a sarcastic, nasty, unlikable guy, is a person inside who is just trying to save the virtue of innocence.
Holden sees the world as perverted and narrow, and has a nervous breakdown when he sees innocent children about to fall of the cliff. This cliff is a thought of Holden's of which he states when asked what he wants to be when he grows up. Holden says that he wants to be a catcher in the rye. He envisions children playing on a field of rye, and next to this field there's a cliff. Holden would catch the children if they didn't look where they were going and accidentally ran off the cliff. There is incredible symbolism in this statement. The children represent childhood innocence and purity. The cliff, or what lies below it, represents the tainted, impure "game" of life, in which so many people have fallen. These people, the phonies, are what Holden despises most. Holden demonstrates his desire to save innocence when he finds that someone's written "f*** you" on a schoolhouse wall. "I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they'd wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them- all cockeyed, naturally- what it meant, and how they'd all think about it and maybe even worry about it for a couple of days." Holden rubbed the mark off, and felt extreme hatred toward the person who wrote it.
Holden hated everything. Everything he held sacred turned out to be a disappointment. A girl in which he thought was innocent and pure turned out to be "given the time" by a suave roommate of his. Another girl whom he dated was such a phony it almost made him vomit. He gets roughed up when a disgruntled pimp comes around to collect more than Holden owed for a prostitute whom he didn't even have sex with. An old teacher that finally understood where Holden was coming from turns out to be a pervert when he's found patting Holden's head in the middle of the night. Nothing sacred and nothing pure, and the worse part was that Holden was, self-admittedly, too "yellow-belly" to do anything about these things. A boy lost in a sick world, helpless to its evil, and yet Holden's the crazy one? Holden speaks the brutal truth, and admires others who do. For example, Holden said that he really admired this kid, James, that Holden knew, who said that another kid, Phil, was a conceited jerk. Phil was much bigger, and he and six other jerks went into scrawny James' room and beat him up, wanting him to take back his comments. James never took it back, but instead, decided to jump out a window to his death.
A key factor that made this book enjoyable was the style in which its monologue was written. This book is definitely not an English teacher's dream when it comes to grammar, sentence structure, etc. But the dialect, risqué even by today's standards, conveys a feeling of reality that is not obtainable by any other literary device I know of. Holden's sarcasm, humorous attitude, and flat out bluntness had me laughing page after page. This line, chosen at random, demonstrates Holden's attitude and dialect, "You should've seen the way they said hello. You'd have thought they hadn't seen each other in twenty years. You'd have thought they'd taken baths in the same bathtub or something when they were little kids. Old buddyroos. It was nauseating. The funny part was, they probably met each other just once, at some phony party. Finally, when they were all done slobbering around, old Sally introduced me."
So why is A Catcher in the Rye a great book? I think what makes a great book great is its ability to communicate with the reader. Every teenager I know can easily relate to Holden Caulfield's situation. The book is a comfort if you're a teen feeling the same things as Holden, criticizing the world and its occupants. Holden Caulfield is a hero that wasn't afraid to speak his mind. He taught me that your criticisms of the world are not invalid, and that there is nothing that you can say that is so bad that you have to repress it. Holden made me feel a little less alone. He made me feel like there were others in this predicament that we call adolescence.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

140 of 170 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, April 8, 2000
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Mass Market Paperback)
I read Catcher in the Rye while on break from school. I'd heard many allusions to the book, and many people said they liked it, yet I didn't really know what it was about. It is fascinating, a true inspiration. Holden is so complex that you can't stop thinking about him when you're not reading. Salinger's amazing insights into human nature and his clever style of cynicism is unique to much of literature and better than all contemporary literature. As Holden starts to spiral down, you can't help but feel incredibly sad thinking about his situation. A boy, on the brink of breakdown, speaking of things that make so much sense. It makes you wonder if he's the one going crazy or if it's the way society is that is truly crazy. I will always love this book and I plan on going over it again to underline all the lines that I adored. For the people giving bad reviews, and as I've analyzed their comments, I must say that you missed the boat. I'm sure that you are the people that Holden is making his social critiques on. No symbolism, a boring character that is whining? Come again? Salinger's phrasing of his words is simplistic, but his message is not. Read it again, try and be more perceptive, and think harder about what is really being said. There is enlightenment waiting for you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

338 of 417 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Universal Tale, May 5, 2000
jman "Jack" (Des Moines, IA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Mass Market Paperback)
I've read The Catcher in the Rye many times--when I was 11, 13, 15, and 17 years old. Seriously. I loved it from the first time I read it, but it didn't hit home until I was a junior and senior in high school.
I AM HOLDEN CAULFIELD. Well, not literally and exactly. But almost. Holden is an extraordinary character. His absolute terror of leaving the wonderful, innocent, carefree world of youth is something everyone can relate to. I'm about to graduate from high school, and even though I'm excited to be a free, independent adult, I can't help but be terrified of the corruption and hard reality that lays ahead, which I have been blind to, as a young person. I mean--who wouldn't miss being a kid?--living at home for free, not having to do anything or be responsible for yourself or anyone. Holden embodies this. To me, that's what I related to most from the book.
Most kids I know don't like the book cuz they're forced to read it for class, which is understandable. I wish they could see the beauty, and heartbreaking universality of Holden's story, though. It is something J.D. Salinger had the talent to grasp, and share it with the rest of the world.
And it's so freakin' inspirational I have to go on and tell some people!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, One of My Favorites, April 3, 2001
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Mass Market Paperback)
Holden Caulfield, a teenager growing up in New York during the 1950s, has been expelled from yet another school. (This time, it's Pencey Prep.) His teachers had found him to be incompetent and an underachiever. After coming to the conclusion the so-called "friends" he had made were phonies, Holden decides he has no reason to stay. He packs his bags and leaves, deciding to "take a vacation" in New York before returning to his parents' inevitable wrath. Told as a monologue, The Catcher in the Rye not only describes Holden's thoughts and activities throughout these few days, but it also goes back to his past. He describes some of his true friends, how his parents and childhood were,and gives reasons for his actions. (Like deciding not to have sex with a prostitute.) These few days can probably be best described as a developing nervous breakdown, a result of his unexplained depression, impulsive spending and generally odd, erratic behavior. However, life continues on around Holden as it always has, with the majority of people ignoring the changes that occur in him- until it begins to get them seriously ticked off. Progressively through the novel we are challenged to think about society's attitude to the human condition - does society have an 'ostrich in the sand' mentality, a deliberate ignorance of the emptiness that can characterize human existence? And if so, when Caulfield begins to probe and investigate his own sense of emptiness and isolation, before finally declaring that the world is full of 'phonies' with each one out for their own phony gain, is Holden actually the one who is going insane, or is it society which has lost it's mind for failing to see the hopelessness of its own existence? This is a timeless classic, not to be missed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless anthem to the lonely, March 14, 2004
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Mass Market Paperback)
Even though this is a literary classic that almost everyone in America reads before graduating from High School, somehow I missed out on this one and was never required to read it for any class I took, even through college. I've heard numerous references to it through the years. Before killing John Lennon, Mark Chapman, who read and re-read the book many times - to the point of believing it was his own biography, asked Lennon to autograph his copy before gunning down the musician. John Hinckley, attempted assassin of Ronald Reagan, was another devotee of the short novel, as was Robert Bardo, killer of Rebecca Schaeffer (star of "My Sister Sam" on TV). There may be countless other criminals and stalkers who have identified with the book's main character, Holden Caulfield. In Mel Gibson's movie, "Conspiracy Theory," his character has an obsession with the book and must buy a copy every time he sees one.
I finally had to pick up a copy and find out what all the fuss was about. Was the book about stalking and murder? Not exactly - but rather the motivating factor behind such heinous crimes of obsession.
Caulfield, in his late teens, is a misfit in a world that doesn't tolerate misfits very well. His younger brother, who he dearly admired for being so likeable and genuine, has died of cancer. His older brother, D.B., lives in Hollywood, writing stories for the big screen, which is a loathsome thought for Caulfield.
Caulfield is an introspective youth who hates being around fake people (who doesn't?), but doesn't try to get to know people well enough to find out whether they are really phony or not. He stumbles through life with his arms crossed in defiance, believing he's one of the few genuine people in the world.
Growing up in an affluent home, being shuttled from one prep school to another, Caulfield finds himself ensconced with phonies and it makes him sick to his stomach. His refusal to acclimate results in him being kicked out of one school after another. The novel opens with his narrative of how he has been kicked out of Pencey, his latest prep school, and how he doesn't want to face his parents until they've gotten the news and calmed down a bit.
He heads up to New York, getting a room in a fleabag hotel, then running from bar to bar, trying to find something that won't bore him. He's obsessed with avoiding boredom at all costs. He's constantly finding himself in situations where he fantasizes about killing people, but never defends himself because, he explains, he's "yellow."
His inability to focus and attempt to express himself makes him frustrated and angry, finding contempt and hate for just about anyone for any reason, even those he loves. The story takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride of 2 and a half days as Holden Caulfield searches for meaning in his life, but finds only emptiness. The only thing he can seem to hold onto is the fantasy of building a cabin out in the middle of nowhere, where he never has to be around phonies again... he'd rather be alone, than lonely in the midst of crowds of phony-baloneys.
After reading the book, it's easy to understand how such misfits as Hinckley, Bardo and Chapman used this book as their personal anthem and almost as a proxy, felt the need to act out in ways that Holden Caulfield was unable or unwilling to do. To the sane reader, Caulfield's character is a study in sadness and loneliness, not a character worth admiring - albeit his search for the truth in life is a noble cause.
The book doesn't condone or condemn Caulfield, but rather states Caulfield's thoughts as they come to him. The sane reader can't help but want to reassure Caulfield that this is part of growing up and everything is going to be ok, and wonder where such people were in the lives of the famous stalkers who never had anyone reach out to them and slap them with some reality.
As someone with ADHD, I found the book a fairly easy read. Parents should know that the book is wrought with foul language and sexually suggestive narratives. As a minor, Caulfield smokes, drinks and attempts to procure the services of a prostitute, among other things... so this is not light reading nor should this be the reading material of a young person not mature enough to separate fact from fiction. Salinger's writing style is interesting - detailed, yet quickly paced, and a good piece of literature as reference for the aspiring writer.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly enjoyable book, January 8, 2002
John Kong (Taipei, Taiwan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Mass Market Paperback)
The catcher in the rye is a rather short yet excellent book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book while reading it. The story basically tells of a rebellious high school student named Holden Caulfield. He gets kicked out of school because of his horrible grades, but he hangs around New York instead of going home so that his mother can get the letter first and calm down before he gets home. He does a few crazy things while staying in New York, but he gets bored and finally decides to go home. The story itself is just talking about a high schoolers time in New York City, but the excellent part about the book is the way it is told.
Holden Caulfield is not your typical rebellious teenage high schooler; he is much more than that. The crazy things that he does are so weird that even rebellious teenagers nowadays don't even do them. The funny thing is that whatever crazy thing he does, it sounds normal to the reader. He tells it in a way that makes you agree with what he did. Everybody around him he considers a phony and then he describes why they are stupid. People don't understand him even though he actually is a very bright person, he just doesn't show it. Many things he says are actually worth considering in our world today.
The book is very funny and I finished it in just a couple of sittings, but if you are looking for an action packed book, this isn't one for you. Humor is a big key in this book and if you get the humor, you'll enjoy the book. This book is for people who think nobody understands them and that they are all alone in this world, because actually, as Holden learned, there are many people in this world that will actually listen to you if you give them the chance.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book IS different, June 30, 2001
"jessupb" (Northern Michigan, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Paperback)
I have been reading many of the reviews on this page, some critical, some positive, and I have condensed the opinions to the following. Those who don't like the book seem to think that the book is disconnected, swears too frequently, or has no plot. Now, I realize that some negative reviewers have differing opinions, and I respect them, because the book is different from most literature, classic or otherwise.
Most literature describes an event, using the characters to interact with their surroundings. There is a defined plot, there is a defined theme, the people do normal things, and everybody who reads it gets pretty much the same thing from it. For an example, I'll quickly examine a well-known piece of literature, "A Christmas Carol" by Dickens. I am not going to go into great detail, I am not an expert on this work, but when I say "A Christmas Carol" you see ghosts, kids with canes, and London. If asked "what is it about" you might say, "the redemption of Scrooge" okay great. Everyone agrees, discussion ended.
"The Catcher in the Rye" is not like that. People with literal minds hate books like this, because everyone who reads it, takes something different from it. These people say, "nothing happens, the symbolism was great, but there was no plot". To them I say, "Who cares?". I want to meet the person who declared that every book needs clearly defined plot, theme and grammar, to be good. Writing is about more than following the proper steps. A monkey can be taught to follow steps, a third grade student can learn to fill in blanks. Writing is about communicating. Some critics look at a work of Dickens and say, "Now, there's a good book, that's how writing is to be done. All the concepts are well thought out, the grammar is letter-perfect, and the word choice is outstanding!" And that is great for them, I'm excited that they feel this way, now we know that there is yet another job that a computer can be taught to do, critique literature based on grammar, punctuation and spelling. These rules are rules we give our elementary students so they can be understood when they write. If you want to buy a book, so you can examine grammar and word usage, don't buy this one. Salinger didn't sit down to write a book for his college English professor. If you want to look at his work from that standpoint, then it would be an awful book.
Fortunately for the human race, writing is not about that at all. Writing is not only about being understood, writing is about feeling, writing is about telling another human being, what an experience is like. This is what Salinger has done. He has captured the teenage experience, the anger, the frustration, the disappointment, the feeling of hopelessness, the paranoia, and the feeling of looking out at society and realizing that it's not a nice place to be. Salinger did not write about the idea teenager, if he did, Holden would've sounded like a member of the Brady Bunch "The world is a happy place". Often, people like to rationalize what happened in this book, by saying, "Holden is sick, he is unusual, nobody else goes through this" this is not the case. True, Holden did move to California, apparently to seek some type of counseling, but he is far from unusual, he is truthful to himself, he is telling about the world the way it is, not the way he wants it to be.
In the book, Salinger is communicating to two types of people. On one hand he is telling the people whose lives have been like Holden's that someone understands them. Someone else has been though what you've been through, it's a normal thing. And he is telling the Brady Bunch people "WAKE UP! Take off your rosy colored glasses, the world is NOT one big happy place, at least not for everyone. Yes, somewhere in the distance, there is war and hunger, but there is something more, and it's right next to you. There are people who can't find the most basic human need, the need to be loved and accepted." Holden feels lost and alone, he feels like nobody cares about him, he feels rejected by his family, and he feels hopeless because he everyone and everything he knows either lets him down, or lies to him. This is real life, this is what it's like to have everything not go your way. If you are looking for fairy tale or soap opera, this is the wrong book. You also shouldn't read this book if you are going to use a holier-than-thou attitude and judge everything that is wrong. To read this book, you need to be realistic, and empathetic. This book is about the bad side of life, it can sometimes be hard to follow, and you may reach the end and wonder what happens next. Read it a few times in that case, you may learn that this kind of writing is not about what happens next, it's about what already happened, and most importantly; why?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

‹ Previous | 1 2401 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First


The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (Mass Market Paperback - May 1, 1991)
$8.99 $5.71
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.