Two years ago, Joyce Maynard opened a can of worms for J.D. Salinger when she wrote about their life together in her biography, At Home in The World. People called her "shameless" "disgusting" and "tacky" It got worse when she sold the letters Salinger sent her through the years to help support her kids for college. It seemed like Ms. Maynard was the only person to speak against the myth of J.D. Salinger.
But then there was an shocking annoucement: Margaret Salinger, J.D.'s daughter, was going to write a book about being the famous writer's daughter. People wondered: What would she say? And we all knew one thing: Margaret shouldn't expect to get a Christmas card from Dad anytime soon.
Dream Catcher is a honest, wrenching story about growing up in near isolation in Cornish, New Hampshire, with her father, her mother Claire, Margaret(known thoughout the book as Peggy) and her younger brother, Matthew. At first their life is enchanted with Salinger telling his daughter magical stories and is a doting dad to both her and Matthew. She belives that the sun and the moon sets with her dad, that he is everything.
But there are cracks in this perfect life: In one of the most disturbing scenes of the book, Peggy recalls waking up in smoke. Her father gets her and her brother out of the house right away, but she learns later that her mother perhaps set the fire. This scene was incredibly hard to read, and more disturbing to know she went through it.
Eventually, the Salingers divorce, and Peggy and Matt see their father every other weekend. The life they have becomes less enchanted; J.D. becomes more and more interested in younger women(one part of a chapter is dedicated to what Peggy felt about the relationship with Joyce Maynard) in a ironic move, Peggy is sent to a hellish boarding school and her father won't bail her out, and she has to face an agnoizing decision when she finds out she is seventeen and pregnant.
Dream Catcher is a terribly honest book, and that is what makes people feel uncomfortable, including myself. But I know that Ms. Salinger felt like she needed to write this book to get it out of her system. She writes incredibly well like her father, but she does have an annoying tendency to have a star right near a passage, then at the bottom of the page she explains the passage. Sometimes it makes sense(when she's quoting At Home in The World, a explanation of her father's yoga) but sometimes it's completely unecessary and distracting(one chapter is called "To Sir With Love" and she says at the bottom "Taken from the popular Lulu song." I wanted to say: "Hey, Peggy? We could've figured that out.")
Still, Dream Catcher is worth a read, to see how one of the greatest writers was like according to his daughter, and she does know how to tell how she survived terrible experiences, yet has now settled on a happy life with her husband and young son. But I have to wonder, was it worth the price that she knew that after this book, she would lose all contact with her father? I don't know. I really don't know.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries