The first banned book I ever read was Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I can’t remember what grade I was in, but my mom had to sign a consent form in order for me to read it along with the rest of my class. She also had to sign a consent form when we watched Franco Zeffirelli’s version of Romeo & Juliet after reading the play.
Even though the main characters die at the end, I think that form had more to do with the fact that we got to see Romeo’s butt, a quick flash of Juliet’s breast and a totally covered post coital smooch. It’s amazing, but we survived.
Even though I can probably still quote a few lines from Romeo & Juliet, it didn’t make an impression on my teenaged mind. It had nothing to do with Shakespeare’s mad writing skills. I just couldn’t connect to Romeo and Juliet. But Holden Caulfield was a different story. Even though he was a different gender, I felt like we were on the same floor in the angst-ridden department. After all, not all teenage girls are lovesick or pining over their own star-crossed lover. I was moody, cynical and probably clinically depressed. And Holden’s story made me feel as though my thoughts and feelings were valid. He had them too.
Yes, there’s a lot of swearing, a prostitute and underage drinking, but in this day and age, that’s totally PG-13. I pray they never make Catcher in the Rye into a movie because there’s not much of a plot. (I know it hasn’t stopped Hollywood before.) It’s a simple character study about a depressed young man coming to terms with becoming an adult. It’s a book that I’ve read several times throughout my life and each time, it’s like visiting with an old friend.
I’ll leave you with my favorite passage.
I was the only one left in the tomb then. I sort of liked it, in a way. It was so nice and peaceful. Then, all of a sudden, you’d never guess what I saw on the wall. Another “Fuck you.” It was written with a red crayon or something, right under the glass part of the wall, under the stones.
That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write “Fuck you” right under your nose. Try it sometime. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it’ll say “Holden Caulfield” on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it’ll say “Fuck you.” I’m positive, in fact.