by J.D. Salinger
Publisher: Back Bay Books
This is two stories: one a short story, the other a novella. They involve the two youngest children of the Glass family, a fictional family that Salinger decided he would base many stories off of.
The short story, Franny, tells the tale of an undergraduate who is becoming disenchanted with the selfishness and inauthenticity she perceives all around her.
The novella, Zooey, is named for Zooey Glass, the second-youngest member of the Glass family. As his younger sister, Franny, suffers a spiritual and existential breakdown in her parents' Manhattan living room, Zooey comes to her aid, offering what he thinks is brotherly love, understanding, and words of sage advice.
Going into this I had unobtainable high expectations because The Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books ever. Unfortunately, this book could not live up to the hype that I have created for this book. It was a magnificent book, however. I really feel like I came to understand Franny and Zooey even though this book was so short, and took place within a very small time window.
The time frame of this book was very interesting. The Franny took place in about an hour end to end. That is not that big of a feat since it was only about 50 pages. Zooey, on the other hand, was about 150 pages, but it took place in only about two hours (if I had to guess). None of that mattered though. Salinger was such a great writer that it wasn't annoying that there was so little plot because there was so much going on below the surface.
I wish I could have read this in school (has any one ever really thought that?). Okay, hear me out. I could tell that there was so much symbolism and other subtext in this book, but I couldn't analyze it since I don't have a literature major. I did appreciate it though. I could see many of the themes from Catcher in the Rye (dealing with the death of a loved one, for one). If I really took the time to analyze this book, and even if I was to reread it, I think I would so much more out of this book.
I have already said this in this review, and I'm going to say it a lot more, but Salinger is a great writer. He used many big words in this book, but not too much as to where it was hard to understand. More importantly, he understands how teenagers and young adults think. He doesn't write like an adult writing about a 20-year-old girl, but instead he puts himself into the character's place, and writes how they would write. It was quite beautiful, really.
You could actually see and understand Franny's existentialism in the both stories even though it was a lot more prevalent in Zooey. It was not just a girl being sad, but it was something that was building up for years, ever since her eldest brother died. She was just having so much going on, and she felt alone, so she started saying "the Jesus prayer" and trying to pray "incessantly." Zooey also understood. He was not trying to tell her to stop being a child, but instead he put himself five years back, and thought how he did when he was 20. Zooey and Franny's sibling relationship is like the one that me and my older brother have, one that is built upon mutual respect. What took me and my brother years to create, is something that Salinger could create in less than 150 pages.
That is why I liked this book.
But I can't give this book five stars. After so much raving, one would think that I would give this book five stars, but I can't, and I don't know if I will ever be able to give this book five stars. I don't think I can give any Salinger book five stars because it was not The Catcher in the Rye. I knew that it would be nothing like Catcher, but I also knew it would be great. I feel like it would be dishonest to give any other Salinger book five stars because I saw myself in that book. I didn't see a brother or friend or relative, no I saw myself, and I have to save that five stars for a book in which understood me on a molecular level.
Have you read this book? If so, what was your opinion, I would love to hear your thoughts.