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Book 138: "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger

Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Read In: Mass Market Paperback
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult

This book has been on my "to-read" list for a very, very long time. It is the pioneer of the young adult genre, which doesn't actually come into shape many years later. According to Wikipedia, the book was first published in 1951 and was written for adults. I can see how it quickly became a favorite of teenagers. I have never read a book so full of angst. Seriously, the entire book is just teenage angst. The main character, Holden Caulfield, is the teenage son of an obviously very wealthy family in New York. He obviously has some anger issues, probably due to several things in his personal life. But, basically, he goes around New York City doing whatever he feels like and hating everything and everyone he comes into contact with.

I can see why the book was banned in the 50s (not that it should have been). It is full of swearing, drinking, talk of teenage promiscuity, and it also, in my opinion, touches on certain aspects of mental illness. It is written in the stream-of-consiousness style favored by the most controversial authors of the time (mainly, the Beats). Basically, it associates, in every way possible, with the seedier side of society and being a teenager that people (especially in the 1950s) wanted to pretend didn't exist.

I respect the book for what it's done, especially for the time in which it was first published. I enjoyed it. But the angst was a little too extreme and got annoying after a while. I also found it predictable. Nothing really all that surprising happens, including the ending. Overall, I'm glad I read it but it will not be added to my list of favorites.


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