The Catcher in the Rye

cover image for The Catcher in the RyeSalinger, J. D. (1951) The Catcher in the Rye. Boston, MA: Little Brown Books

Plot Summary:

Holden Caulfield is the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life.  That hasn’t kept him from failing out of three different prep schools though, and his current school, Pency, looks to be no different.  After getting into a fight with another student, Holden decides to go home to New York City early and stay in a hotel for a couple of days without letting his parents know he is there.

Critical Evaluation:

Technically speaking, The Catcher in the Rye is a very well written book and the subject matter, a disillusioned teen on a several day long spree of dissipation, was groundbreaking for it’s time.  All I kept thinking while reading it was “I can understand reading it why people say serial killers love this book.” It isn’t that Holden is particularly violent or cruel, it’s more that he is especially self-absorbed and heedless of consequences – even more than usual for a teenaged boy from wealth.

Reader’s Annotation:

Holden Caulfield thinks you’re a phony.

(with the credit for the line going to John Green)

Author Information:

Salinger died at age 91 in 2010, but his fans maintain a wiki



Booktalking Ideas:

For once I have an idea for a book I did not like: mention that at least two known serial killers have either been obsessed with this book or brought it with them on their murders.

Reading Level/Target Age:

8th grade/14-24

Possible Controversy:

The Catcher in the Rye has never not been controversial, and likely will always be so.  Drinking, prostitution, disrespect for authority, violence… the list goes on.  While I may not have liked the book, many teens do connect to it and none of these topics are things that should be off limits with regards to teens’ reading materials.

Reasons for Choosing This Title:

So that I could say that I had read it, and not feel like such a slacker whenever it comes up in a conversation or book discussion.


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