Popsugar Reading Challenge category: A book you should have read in high school
The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger
I don't know about "should," but it seems like everyone but me read this book in high school. It's a bit of a stereotype that if a guy says this is his favorite book, it means he hasn't read one since then.
I see the appeal to adolescents. Teenage Holden flees his boarding school before winter break, and checks into a hotel. He drinks, smokes, flirts with adult women, and doesn't have to listen to adults, for a few days anyway. He feels disconnected and misunderstood.
We get occasional glimpses of trauma in Holden's life. His younger brother died. A classmate jumped out of a window to his death to escape an assault by several guys. Holden spends the night at the home of a former teacher and his wife - and wakes to find the teacher caressing his hair. It's mentioned in passing that Holden's been in this situation before.
But I found Holden's narration so tedious, it was hard to care about the story. Holden gripes endlessly about how everything's "crumby" [sic] and "lousy." Holden lies to everyone around him, yet his favorite complaint is that everyone else is "phony." At one point, he takes a girlfriend to a show that he hates, and professes love to her while thinking of her with total contempt - and somehow she's "phony"?
It's possible to have an unlikeable, unreliable narrator, and still have an engaging book. (Lolita springs to mind.) For me, this book wasn't it.