Showing Gratitude: The Catcher in the Rye
Thanksgiving month is coming to an end. Before we dive head first into the month of gimme my presents, let's celebrate gratitude one last time by talking about books that have impacted my life, books that came along at just the right time. Books that, ultimately, I'm thankful for.
Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
As with the other books I've been thankful for, this one is more about the person and the situation rather than the book itself. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about books centered around angsty teenagers. But, for me, this book is more about how it came to me than the book itself.
I was in high school, so angsty teenager, when I read Catcher for the first time. I was sitting in my eleventh grade AP English class when the Principal came in. He was concerned that my teacher had a class set of Catcher in the Rye, which is a challenged book and isn't supposed to be in schools. The Superintendent was coming the next day, so my teacher was instructed to get rid of his copies. He gave them to us. Not at all what the Principal had in mind, but he was, technically, following orders. My teacher then declared the next day a free reading day. Free reading days were rare and we usually spent them catching up on our workload. Many of us were taking several AP classes and they can be demanding. However, as if we'd discussed it, everyone chose to read Catcher that particular free day.
The Superintendent and Principal walked into the room and there we were, a class full of students all reading a challenged book. Our teacher explained he didn't tell us to read it but, as advanced students, he often gave us the option to read what we saw fit. The glint of rebellion in his eyes is what I remember most. He didn't believe in book censorship, neither do I, and he wasn't going to let these men tell him what to do. Is there anything more angsty teenager than that?
I have read Catcher in the Rye many, many times since my eleventh grade AP English class and, though I am well past the angsty teenager stage, I still love it. I think about Holden a lot and I hope he's okay. I know he's a fictional character, but don't even act like you, if you're a reader, don't think about these characters as if they're real people. And, if you don't, you're missing out.
Sometimes, books come along at the right time. Or they're given to you by a person who came along at the right time. Either way, pay attention when it happens, you might just need them.