Friday, May 29, 2009

The Ultimate YA Book

This weekend I went into Barnes and Noble and purchased a few books. How is that different from any other weekend you ask? I do frequent bookstores almost every chance I get, but this time I purchased one of the best, most moving books I’ve read in a long time. Before I tell you what book I’m writing about, let me tell you a little about it.

The main character resonates with me, as it will with anyone who is…well, alive. A lonely teen, he just wants someone to talk to. A friend to listen, to tell him things are going to be okay during a hard time in his life; a place to go where he can feel safe. Instead, he has run-ins with three women at a bar, his brother’s ex-girlfriend, a group of nuns, and a prostitute. The list could go on from there, but I think you’ve got the idea. He squashes his sorrows with alcohol, cigarettes and his security blanket, a hat.

Still don’t know what book I’m talking about? I’m sure most people read the book in high school…The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

I decided to buy The Catcher in the Rye because I hadn’t read it in a good 12-15 years (I can’t remember exactly what grade I was assigned to read it). I remember liking it, which was so rare for me to like an assigned book in school. I would buy the Cliff Notes (not recommended, trust me) and go home to read a book I wanted to read, not one someone told me to read. Stupid, I know. I missed reading a lot of the great classics, but for some reason, I picked up J.D. Salinger’s book and couldn’t put it down.

Reading it again, now at 29 years old, I was amazed at how close this book mirrors young adult books today. The main character, Holden Caulfield has the same problems that teens have in today’s YA section in bookstores. He’s been kicked out his boarding school due to poor grades (or not doing his work), he drinks (despite being underage), smokes like a chimney, thinks about sex (even going as far as hiring a prostitute despite being a virgin), deals with death and mourning, religion, suicide and uses bad language throughout the book. Keep in mind, this book was first published in 1951 (58 years ago for the math challenged), but still sells roughly 250,000 copies a year. This book transcends time like no other classic that could be considered young adult.

I don’t want to give too much away. I want every single one of you, if you’re a teen or a teen author/writer, to please read this book. Even if you’ve read it, and it’s been awhile, pick it up again. You won’t be disappointed. Trust me!


Tina said...

I remember this being one of the only assigned books in school I liked too. I've been thingking about picking it up. This one and Lord of the Flies. It will be interesting to see if I still like them now that I'm a adult.

Steph said...

I had this same experience recently. I had not read the book since I was 16. In talking with some friends in my reading circle, I was surprised to know how many hadn't ever read it. So we made that our book that week. I was shocked at the varying opinions on it, but I,loved it even more at 28 than I had 12 years ago.
Great post!

Tami Klockau said...

Tina, make sure to pick it up again. You'll be shocked when reading it, or at least I was. It's funny to hear some parents talk about how "edgy" YA is now, but this book fits right along with it. Let us know if you read it again! Would love to hear your thoughts.

Steph, great to hear I wasn't alone! What was the general consensus among your group? Did most enjoy it, and do they ready current YA books? I agree, I think I loved it more today, at almost 30, than I did at 14-17 years old.

Iryna said...

Even though this book sounds interesting, I think I'll wait to read this book at school. This novel seems a little too serious for me.

Tami Klockau said...

Hey Iryna, what grade are you in? In the US, I believe most public schools read it in their sophomore or junior year. (I may be wrong, does anyone know for sure?)

It deals with heavy topics, but in a light tone. If you aren't into books with language (nothing major, but it's not all clean), I wouldn't recommend it yet. :)

Steph said...

Strangely enough, only one other person in our circle of 6 liked it at all. The others couldn't just take it or leave it, they reallyyy disliked it. They do read more current YA, I was really surprised!

Tami Klockau said...

Wow, that's crazy, Steph! What did they dislike about it? I can't imagine reading it and hating it (or REALLY disliking it) but to each his own.

sharigreen said...

Awesome book! :)