I was never assigned it for class in high school, but it’s one of those books everyone seems to have read, so i finally read it over Winter Break this year. It is now on the short list of “books i hate with a violent passion.” I remember often hearing that it's one of those books you read as a teen and identify with Holden, and while i might well not have hated it quite so passionately as a teen, i think i still would have hated Holden.
I don't do well with narratives where i dislike the protagonist(s), and this was rather the epitome of that. Holden was an obnoxious hypocritical little fuck, so i couldn't stand him. And thus couldn't stand the book, since it was all about him.
Everything he complains about in other people he is just as if not more guilty of in himself. If we were supposed to read it as a critique of the hypocrisy inherent in humanity or something, then i think i could at least respect the author's intent even though obviously it would still be painful to read, but everyone who likes the book seems to say they like and identify with Holden.
I’m interested to hear arguments for the character of Holden -- why you liked him, identified with him, found him interesting, whatever. Or you can argue for the merits of the book while conceding Holden’s vileness. Whatever. I like discussion, and it’s such a classic book that i figure there must be rational arguments out there for it and would like to hear them.
You don’t have to defend Salinger himself, unless you would really like to. My personal rule is 2 works by an author before i get to write them off wholesale, and i hear good things about Franny & Zooey and Nine Stories, so at some point i will read them.