For most popular books I try to dive blindly, especially for classics. But I didn’t know I was going for a big surprise here. First of all, I wasn’t aware that it is a modern classic. I checked that it was published only in 1951. Second I wasn’t aware that it has a young adult theme. The whole narrative was full of slang which was a bit turnoff for me, especially since I picked up this book thinking it to be a classic.
But still, this book raised points on some important topics. Few that stood out for me are:
We still follow the age-old system of one size fits all. We don’t consider that every child is different with their own unique skills and creativity. We see so many behavior correction programs for all these kids who don’t fit the pattern. The general convention is to blame the kid for their disinterest and poor performance. And this book points beautifully how Holden is singled out because he failed to fit the pattern
Mental health issue in young adults:
With the current millennial age, I sometimes feel young adults go through much more mental health struggles than an average adult. Nowadays we have so many young adult books in the market that talk about the struggles of a child growing from young adult to adolescence. But I don’t know how many books were written on this topic in the 1950s. So, I can really understand why this book is so much loved.
However, I am not super impressed with the book. I find the whole narrative a little dry and too judgemental at times.
I can understand that Holden has a problem adjusting to the world because he found most people as phony. Sadly I know few people who are misfits like him and these people sometimes do annoy you at times. But if you know them closely then instead of annoyance you feel sorry for them. For the struggle, they go through every day to survive, when the world constantly sees them as crazy and tries to fit them in their standard mold.