The Catcher in the Rye took only a few days to read.
Reading it as an older adult I expected to hate it, since it’s generally believed to be a book for young people, but that’s not what happened. The more I read, the more sympathetic I was to Holden and the more appalled I was at the way he had been treated by his parents. I don’t know that I like him very much, but I do feel sorry for him.
It’s a novel about growing up and not wanting to grow up. Holden seems to want to grow up, but he also delights in children and the things that delight them. Probably the happiest moment in the book is Holden watching his sister on the merry-go-round in the rain. Much as he wants to grow up, he’s also afraid of growing up. When he does grow up, will he stop being himself, as his older brother has?
As many readers of the book point out, there is no plot. All that happens is that Holden is expelled from school and returns to New York, where he lives. Such incident as there is is crammed into the last few pages of the novel. It is, however, what happened before the novel even begins that’s important and this is revealed slowly through Holden’s thoughts as he tries to work out what to do next.
Holden is obnoxious and irritating, and he lies and pretends to be grown up in all the wrong ways. He’s also a boy who loves his siblings and was very close to his younger brother who died. He likes poetry and reading and he’s kind. Right at the beginning of the book he tells the reader that he’s very ill and the signs of that illness become clearer over the few days covered by the novel.
This is definitely a book to read more than once.