What makes this 59-year-old book such a classic?
Author: J.D. Salinger
Date of Publication: 1951
Number of Pages: 277
Recommended age of readers: 13 +
Almost every ninth grader reads The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger as a school assignment. My sister read it, my mom read it, I think even my grandmother read it. It is a classic coming-of-age novel, where the main character changes, or grows up, by the end of the story.
The main character in The Catcher in the Rye is Holden Caulfield, who does a lot of changing in this book. He starts out as an immature teenager who has been kicked out of three boarding schools.
During a three-day joy ride around Manhattan, he contemplates thoughts of running away permanently. He turns into a thoughtful young adult as the story unfolds and he gets wise advice from two people he truly cares about. An important lesson for Holden is that he finally learns to listen.
For me, Holden’s wit and his sarcastic sense of humor make the book. Actually in the beginning, I didn’t like this character very much. He was unappreciative of what he had in life. A lot of kids would love to have his opportunities, but all Holden does is complain. He is incredibly whiney!
As soon as Holden starts to mature, his wit and humor are revealed. Now I think that we could be great friends because we are both good with sassy comebacks and one-liners—mostly under our breath.
Aside from some of the slang that no one really uses anymore, this book could have been written today. Holden Caulfield is as interesting now as he was in the 1950s. That’s what makes The Catcher in the Rye a classic.
PHOTO: (TOP) Book Cover for The Catcher in the Rye. (BOTTOM) Kid Reporter Chloe Anello reads The Catcher in the Rye in her favorite place to read any book—the pool! (Photo Courtesy Chloe Anello)