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Book Reviews by NBPL Teens

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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Review by Christina

Post Date:05/03/2021 9:00 am

catcher in the rye book cover


After failing four of his five classes, Holden Caulfield was due for expulsion from his 

prestigious private school -- Pencey Prep -- but he is not scheduled to return home until 

Wednesday. Mr. Spencer, his ex-history teacher reprimands Holden about how life is a 

game which ought to be played by the rules, insisting that Holden must understand this 

as he plans for his future out of school. 

Though Holden pretends to agree with Mr. Spencer, he believes Mr. Spencer to be a 

“phony” -- something he most resents. Confused and disillusioned, Holden searches for 

truth against the “phoniness” of the adult world. J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel details 

post-war alienation told by angst-ridden teen Holden Caulfield. 

Throughout the novel, Holden looks for a catcher, someone who understands him and 

will be there for him. In addition, he hopes to be the catcher for people he cares for, to 

protect their innocence against the cruelty and artificiality of the adult world. 

One of the people he hopes to protect is Jane Gallagher, an innocent girl who always 

likes to keep her kings on the back row. Holden idealizes Jane as perfection, leading him 

to label other women as “stupid” or “vain”. When his roommate suggests that he and 

Jane ended up in the same car, Holden fights to defend her innocence. Yet though 

Holden frequently thinks about Jane, he never brings himself to call her. 

While some consider J.D. Salinger’s novel to be one of the greatest books of all time, it is 

surrounded by controversy. Also known as the little red book, The Catcher in the Rye 

made no references to murder, but it was associated with three shootings. On December 

9, 1980, as John Lennon arrived at his apartment at 11 pm, Mark David Chapman -- a 

fan who had asked for his autograph hours earlier -- pulled out a .38-caliber revolver 

and fired four times into Lennon’s back. After the shooting, Chapman calmly sat down 

and began flipping through The Catcher in the Rye. 

Inside the book, Chapman had penned, “To Holden Caulfield, From Holden Caulfield, 

This is my statement.” 

Besides John Lennon, the novel was also connected to Rebecca Schaeffer’s murder and 

an assassination attempt on president Ronald Reagan. Spectators wondered if they were 

coincidences or the devil at work, which only led to increase the book’s popularity. 

I would rate The Catcher In the Rye a 9/10. When I first opened the book, I was put off 

by its raw language, but as I read more, I began to discover its appeal and why it was 

able to capture the hearts of millions. Holden’s character is so relatable; he’s a perfect 

representation of teenage rebellion and uncertainties young adults face. However, due 

to its sexual and alcohol references, I would only recommend this novel to teenagers 16 

and above. Salinger’s frank and crude language may not be suitable nor relatable for a 

younger audience. 

Checkout Catcher in the Rye from the Newport Beach Public Library.

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