It took me nearly fifteen years to read this book. I started at the age of twenty-three or so, but I had to put it down. The problem was, I identified with the main character, Holden Caulfied.
I doubt that's a good thing, since the theme of the book seems to be the main character's immaturity and inability to separate the trivial from the real in his struggles with the world around him. But it's true, I just agreed with his world view too vehemently.
Times have changed. I'm a middle-aged man, now, and a married father. My world view has become vastly different. And while I'm still "confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior" as the book's Mr. Antonini says, I've found ways to deal with it. Leaving records, and all. Like this website.
I'd intended to donate this book to the circulation at the office, but instead I'm going to hang onto it. Who knows, in another fifteen years there may be another disturbed young Werneburg who needs to see himself reflected in print. And if it should come to pass that my son picks up this important little book, I won't let Holden's ineffectual rage discourage Ken, I'll tell him to push through to the end.
Because it's towards the end that the ol' Holden begins to finally get his head around his anger and pain and listen to those around him. He's still immature, and he certainly does bad things to his health and welfare throughout the course of the story, but he's aware that he needs to change and he's asking the right people. And that's a fine insight for a book to convey.
I strongly recommend this odd little book (and wish I could write with a sixth of Salinger's skill).