Franny and Zooey – J. D. Salinger

Franny and Zooey is a novel in two separate and consecutive parts that tell the tale of a sister and brother, Franny and Zooey.

Rating: 7/10 convincing lies.

Summary:

Franny, the first story, opens up with Franny meeting her boyfriend, Lane Coutell at a train station to attend a football game known as the”Yale” game. Unfortunately, the two never get to join in on the fun as Franny begins to feel guilty for the way she has been faking many aspects of her life, including her realization that she has to fake her love for her Lane. She recounts how she quit the play because she had to “act fake”, and has stopped doing a number of activities because they make her feel guilty when she thinks of the falsehoods she has to portray. Eventually, she becomes sick enough with herself that she collapses on the way to a bar. The story ends with her boyfriend holding her in a cab he called as she mouths what we can assume to be the Lord’s Prayer.

The narrator opens his second tale with Zooey sitting in a bathtub smoking and reading a four-year-old letter from his brother Buddy. The letter begins to sidetrack quite a bit and Buddy ends up talking about their oldest brother, Seymour, who killed himself, and the effect that such a suicide has had on the family. Zooey’s bath is interrupted by the entrance of his mother, Bessie, into the bathroom. Zooey blames her emotional breakdown on his older and, as per his mother’s request, attempts to console his sister. After a little trickery, the two reconcile with each other and resolve Franny’s emotional breakdown.

Review:

I really did enjoy this, but I’ve been a Salinger fan for a quite a while now. In accordance with his writing style, Salinger has a lot to say in his curt and somewhat abrasive conversations between characters. Even though the two stories were originally published separately, reading them together only adds to the meaning behind the story. Falsehood and guilt are major themes in this book, which are both addressed in the ending of Zooey. Definitely give it a read, but keep in mind that the issues this book deals with can leave you questioning your own motivations for the daily decisions you make.

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