By Ashley Huang
When one is prompted with a list of iconic books for angsty teens, among them would be the infamous Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. The main character, 16-year old Holden Caulfield, is as classic as they get: emotional, hates adults, and an all-around lonely kid. I won’t spoil too much, but The Catcher in the Rye basically follows Holden as he, one night, in a flash of emotion, chooses to ditch his fancy boy’s prep school that he’s getting kicked out of anyways, and instead stumble into the wild streets of New York. See, he’s not supposed to be home until a few days later, so he decides to mope around town until he visits his family. Holden embarks on his own little adventure, from interesting nights in a hotel to dates with old friends and teachers to lonely stays at the bar, desperately trying to shake his loneliness off by inviting people to drinks. Although his wild adventure only lasted the span of a few days, Holden provides and pages and pages of his own thoughts on what he sees, who he meets, and what he hears all around him.
What I found to be the most appealing in The Catcher in the Rye is the social commentary that Holden evinces in his sayings. For instance, Holden is 16-years old and essentially just a kid at heart. He finds adulting to be a stupid and “phony” phenomenon, and what I liked most about Holden was his dreams for an idyllic reality. Holden believed running away from his current life and starting up a quiet, new one was his solution to his problems, and personally, to me, the way he just buzzed exuberantly while talking about his dreams made me love him and understand him as an angsty teenager.
However, that was just a tiny peek of the wonderful beauty in The Catcher in the Rye. This book displays so many other charming qualities; I believe everyone has their own predilections to what attracts them the most to The Catcher in the Rye. It makes sense to me why J.D. Salinger was still a young adult when he wrote this book – every young person would find some piece of themselves in Holden! Although the book is relatively quick to read, I truly, genuinely felt like I was being swept away from my life to run away for a few isolating nights in New York, right alongside Holden. It took me two days to read this book. But, by the time I flipped to the last page, I felt tired, aged and burdened by everything Holden went through, as well as all the sad depressing things he articulated on about society and his reality.