Year Published: 1951
I really don’t know how I feel about this book. It certainly kept me thinking and left me with conflicting emotions, but I think that’s good enough reason to for me to think of it as a good and impacting book. I, unlike many others, did not see Holden as a whiny character that wouldn’t do anything about his life. I feel as though he was simply misunderstood, and like many young adults, afraid of the future and unsure of what to do next. It’s no mystery that high school can be a conflicting and torturous time for many teens…and all teens want to do is get out. But where else is there to go but another school? Another town? It’s the cliché “same story, different people”. At this time, you’re not considered a child, but you’re not considered an adult either, and that just leaves you in this uncertain and scary limbo. Holden’s time “horsing around” in New York was exploring this limbo…coming to the realization that, although many others have experienced this limbo as well, they have not experienced it as intensely as he has.
It feels so unfair, personally, that some young adults experience it more intensely than others do because it leaves them feeling more alone than ever, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Unless you die or kill yourself (which Holden considers quite a few times), there’s nothing left to do but to drag your feet through the mud that is the transition of adolescence to adulthood. Those who have already escaped the limbo always seem to forget what it was like, leaving people like Holden who are constantly trying to connect with someone, over anything, in the cold Christmas streets of New York City. I think that any young adult can connect to Holden Caulfield in this way if they understand that Holden isn’t whining, he’s just trying to understand what he likes and doesn’t like so he can figure out what he wants to do next..and sometimes, at that age, you just can’t do that. You just can’t know.