Most of us are familiar with J.D. Salinger’s work. If for no other reason than most high schools required students to read Catcher in the Rye. I must admit that while I am an avid fan of his work, I’ve never read the calssic novel. I love Franny and Zooey and own several of collections of his short stories but somehow this tale of a troubled teen and the somewhat more troubled adults in his life slipped by me.

With the passing of this great author I was struck by how much of his writing resonated with teenagers even decades later. Adolescence is a hard time in life and so often as adults we become so wrapped up in our own stressors that we forget the challenges of that part of our life. One of the biggest complaints of parents and teenagers is the disconnection they feel with each other.

I have found that its often because we are both so wrapped up in our own experiences. As parents we minimize what is happening for our children as silly or trivial and our children write us off as out-of-touch and inaccessible. I think Salinger, and authors like him, have given us parents a reminder of what its like for our children and unique opportunity to relive some of those moments, this time with the wisdom of adulthood.

In honor of his passing I’ll be picking up my first copy of Catcher in the Rye tonight. Maybe I’ll read it with my son and for a little while we can connect around the universal themes of self exploration and social alienation that invariably is part of the growing up process.

For a look at some of his short stories, visit the New Yorker magazine online.