The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger I first read The Catcher in the Rye, appropriately enough, when I was 16 years old. I didn't finish it and didn't really "get" the character of Holden Caulfield. I couldn't identity with him at all. I read TCITR immediately after I finished On The Road by Jack Kerouac which I adored. I could identify With Kerouac's wanderlust and searching. Holden seemed...well...whiney.

Obviously a lot of teenagers disagreed with me although I have no idea whether the current generation understands Holden. However, 44 years later, I now understand the attraction of this novel for so many in the 50s and 60's. Salinger has written a concise look at the indecisiveness and alienation of the adolescent of his time. TCITR is more of an adult book than the young adult epic it is hyped to be. At least for this reader, I can now read about Holden Caulfield and see the dilemma that my friends and I experienced even if we did not recognize it then. One of my issues is that Salinger has to tread a fine line between adult hindsight and teenage impulsiveness. Holden's actions are often juvenile but his insight is beyond his years making the link between action and thought unrealistic for the character. This is what bothers me about Holden Caulfield yet I also see why Salinger needed to walk this fine line in order to succeed. And clearly he has succeeded for many. I was quite impressed with this novel on this second reading and can see why it has attained the status it has. For that alone, it deserves at least four stars.