Book Review Time: The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger & The Writing On My Forehead by Nafisa Haji

I finished this book a couple of weeks ago but wasn't sure how to go about reviewing it. Finally, I decided to try and write the review in the same style/tone in which the book
was written.

This book was one of the first purchases from my TBR Classics List. I thought it was about time I read the books that the world raves about. I mean, you don't absolutely have to read the classics but it's good that you do. Or is it not? But who decides if it matters or not? So the book was one long rant. And one hell of a tedious rant it was. Parts of it were so annoying that I wanted to get hold of the 16 year old Holden Caulfield, the lead character, and smack some sense into his head. After every two pages, I found myself questioning how and why had this book made its way to the classics of English literature. Am I digressing from the review here? I don't care if I am. It got on my nerves. The digression, not the reviews. When my annoyance reached unprecedented levels, I turned to google to understand the hidden brilliance that I failed to see. Turned out that the success of the book had a lot to do with the time and social context during which it was published. Back in 1951, in the post WWII America. Did that mean the author just got lucky? I concluded that I was a little late to the party. Maybe I could have identified with Holden if I read the book as a frustrated teenager. I would love to know how he ended up adulting, that is, if he ever did. But Americans back in the day apparently identified with Holden like crazies. His confused voice and haywire thoughts depicted the ambiguity in their lives. He was lauded for being the compulsive liar and phony that he was, yes, I failed to see him in any other light. A tale of a disillusioned boy who thought he hated pretense but was in fact an embodiment of pretensions himself. That is what it was for me. Not a 'coming off age' story.

There. Now add a bunch of F words at absolutely random places and you have a mini version of the rant that the book was. But I'm happy to have read it. Now I can have a better discussion when someone explains what a work of genius the book is.

Goodreads rating: 3.78/5
My rating: 2.75/5

Easy breezy read, that's the category I'll put this one in. Nothing extra-ordinary, story of just another teenage Californian girl of Indo-Pakistan descent, torn between contrasting cultures, wrestling differences with her traditionally desi mother and discovering her secretive family history. There are several instances where the plot read like numerous others written by renowned sub-continent writers. Haji touches some sensitive matters like the indo-pak partition and 9/11 but her treatment of those incidents was too 'light' and almost seemed forced, as if to check things off her to-do-list.The 'twist' in the end is quite foreseeable, again, following a typical format that you'll be all too familiar with if you've read the likes of Khaled Hosseini, Bapsi Sidhwa or Kamila Shamsie. 

I generally like reading novels with indo-pak context and desi characters. While this one didn't have any well crafted characters to be remembered for long or a plot intriguing enough to come back do, I still enjoyed it as a casual bed-time read. Didn't feel like putting it down or rushing through it. Finished feeling content, nothing more, nothing less.

Goodreads rating: 3.8/5
My rating: 3.8/5

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