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“If a body catch a body coming through the rye”

J.D. Salinger’s classic The Catcher in the Rye offered something to me that had never happened before in the entirety of my reading life. Well, actually, it offered several things along those lines, but one stood out to me particularly. After reading only the first three or four chapters, I decided it was one of my favorite books.

I didn’t care how the plot turned out; I didn’t care how Holden Caulfield’s character developed. I didn’t care whether Holden stayed in New York City or went home or ran off to join the circus. I immediately fell in love with the narrative style, the vivid supporting characters, the vintage-yet-timeless atmosphere of the setting, and above all, Holden himself and all that he symbolizes. The fact that this was a classic I was being forced to read for school completely fell by the wayside. I read it as an extraordinary social commentary–not to mention an enjoyable, if somewhat depressing, story.

What is it about The Catcher in the Rye that appeals to me so much, besides the aforementioned basics? What launches it from simply an excellent book to an absolute favorite? As I’ve said to many, “Holden Caulfield is my spirit animal.” He and I see eye to eye on a lot. Given, we have vastly different outer selves–I doubt Holden would associate himself with such a nerd–but I saw many reflections. I’ll admit that The Catcher in the Rye‘s frequenting of banned books lists caters to my rebellious side. I love the idea that such a controversial book could attain such towering literary status.

Finally, I’m fascinated by the book’s central theme of death and how our society in general views it. I’m interested in the way these views effect those in mourning. What I take away from The Catcher and the Rye, at the heart of all the other commentary, is that the way we try to act as if death does not exist makes it impossible to properly grieve and move on, and that this is essentially what caused Holden’s depression and descent into mental instability. “If a body catch a body coming through the rye”: Holden wants to be able to save all the children from going over the cliff. After the deaths of his brother Allie and his classmate James Castle were swept aside, Holden was unable to move on and accept death for what it is. His is an eternal sort of character: stuck on a worn-down carousel of a life, read over and over again.

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Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Book Rambles

 

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Review: Lovesick by Tonya Hurley

Lovesick by Tonya Hurley (Ghostgirl #3)

July 2010, Little, Brown & Company

Young Adult paranormal romance

Before she can rest in peace, Charlotte Usher must return to the tragic site of her death: high school. She still has one last assignment to complete, but no one explained what happens if you fall in love with your class project.

Charlotte would die (again) for love. But when her only chance at an afterlife means having to face the dreaded, all-too-familiar pains of being invisible, it may be too much for her to withstand.

The Ghostgirl books are not easily forgettable. The first one, simply entitled Ghostgirl, made a strong impact on me–I’d even go so far as to say it changed my life. Twilight this isn’t. I feel guilty about slapping the “paranormal romance” label on it, because this, along with the previous two in the series, is a well-written, at times satirical, and carefully planned book that could be enjoyed by all sorts of teens and adults. And think of all the stigma attached to the genre! This is one of the best examples of it, and one that stubbornly refuses to become a franchise. It should be more well-known than it is.

Tonya Hurley knows how to manipulate readers’ emotions. If you’ve read books one and two, Lovesick will wrench you heart, threaten to rip it in two, and leave it in a bittersweet state once the book is closed. Over the course of the series, I grew to care so deeply about Charlotte and her human best friend, Scarlet, and seeing them both change from the forms I met them in was a bit painful. And Petula–the trendsetting prom queen we’ve all grown to deliciously despise–will definitely surprise fans.

(If said fans haven’t read it already, that is. I waited for this one to come out in paperback. Ahem.)

Hurley continues to meet her standards of smart, sharp, and mostly realistic dialogue, excellent scene-setting description, and vivid characterization. The book’s beautiful design in both paperback and hardcover editions will draw old and new readers in–but please, if you’re just getting into the series, start at the beginning. It’ll only confuse you, and going in without any background will take away half of the experience.

I will admit that the plot gets a little repetitive in Lovesick; the same thing happened with book two, Homecoming. I didn’t care too much, though. This is, overall, a great installment in this fascinating series, which, if the closure–The end?–is to be believed, will be as infinite as any afterlife, whether Hurley continues to write it or not.

Rating: 4 stars

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2011 in Book Reviews

 

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