This isn’t a traditional novel by any means, but it is a modern classic; in fact, it’s considered one of the best novels of the 20th century! This is a book that I absolutely enjoyed; probably because I read it during my late teens and could sort-of relate to Holden Caulfield.
The Catcher in the Rye is written by J. D. Salinger, who meant it to be an adult novel. The story is about Holden Caulfield, who presents his tale in the first person from a mental institution. No, he’s not crazy; he’s just had a mental breakdown, something which many teenagers will attest to having on a weekly/daily basis!
At times, Holden does seem like a regular guy, struggling with common adolescent issues like fitting in, sexuality and basically finding himself. At other times, he seems a little full of it. But that’s what makes him relatable; we have to admit that even we’ve had some of those crazy thoughts, although we may not care to admit it.
Holden is basically caught between the innocence of childhood and the demands of adulthood – he often relates to adult life and relationships as an abyss from which there’s no return. He wants to ‘catch’ himself from falling into it for as long as he can. He even tries running away, only to return and be ‘caught’ by his little sister.
Despite its popularity, there have been mixed reactions to the novel. Some people consider it a bad influence on the younger generation, although I disagree. If anything, a confused teenager will feel less lonely; the book reminds him that there are others like him, perhaps even crazier!