I can see why this book is on the reading list for so many teenagers in the USA. It reminded me a lot of The Bell Jar, but a male version. The voice was much more powerful in this book that in The Bell Jar. But I was just as bored reading this book as the other.
I dislike teenage angst a lot - maybe because I had a lot of it, and got over it, that I just want to scream at these teenagers to get over themselves too.
Both Holden Caulfield and the main female character in The Bell Jar become mentally ill. Holden goes on and on about being depressed. He recognises it, which is odd for someone who's mentally ill - usually they deny anything is wrong with them.
The book is based over about 48 hours. Holden doesn't develop over that time, but he does deteriorate. He is always going on about people being 'phony', and seems to want to connect with someone. This seems to be a combination of immaturity and mental illness. He thinks everyone is phony, to the point of over doing it. He doesn't seem capable of being open to the intimacy that he wants, and mistakes someone reaching out to him as a sexual advance, or vice versa.
His little sister, Pheobe, is someone he admires and loves greatly. She is also his link to his earlier, happier life. He wants to be a child, and being with her reminds him of the years gone by. She doesn't recognise that he is not well, but is probably the ultimate reason why he gets help.
I'm glad this was a short book, but I really didn't have much time for Holden. He bored me, annoyed me, and the lack of anything actually happening made be want to put the book down.