The Catcher in the Rye

by Melissa on September 12, 2010 · 0 comments

in 14-17, ATOS 4.0-4.9, Classic, Lexile 700-799

Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Series: None
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Author: J. D. Salinger
Age Range: 14-17
Lexile: [?] 790L
AR Level: [?] 4.7
Formats: book
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Rating: 4.0/5 (2 votes cast)


The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.


This is the quintessential young adult novel.  In fact, it is largely recognized as the first real book of that genre. It’s moving, and poignant and chock full of content to be aware of. I would recommend parents read this before or as their teen is reading it so you can discuss it with them.


Level 1, 2, 3 [?]

Sexual Content

Teens have sex. Boy tells story about ‘giving it’ to a girl in a car and under the boardwalk. Story about a boy who kept pressuring a girl to have sex in the back seat of the car while on a double date. Holden hears her saying repeatedly, “Please. Don’t.” About another girl he says, “She wasn’t a whore or anything, but she didn’t mind doing it once in awhile.” Word use: knockers. Holden hires a prostitute, but doesn’t have sex with her.


Very heavy teen drinking and smoking. Holden gets into bars and clubs, though he’s underage.


Holden’s little brother died of leukemia. Story of a boy who committed suicide by jumping out of a dorm window. Some description, some shock value.


Word use: faggy. Some discussion about ‘flits’ [homosexuals]. Holden insinuates that he has had multiple ‘perverty’ situations with teachers, grownups, etc, that make him very uncomfortable. Holden leaves boarding school early and stays in a hotel for a few days before Christmas break begins and his parents expect him home.


Some irreverence towards a pastor and his speech about talking to Jesus. Word use: for God’s sake. Discussion that Catholics are always trying to find out if you’re a Catholic

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The Catcher in the Rye, 4.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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