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Dear J.D. Salinger

Christine Lee, 11th grade
Germantown High School
9th - 12th Grade

Dear J.D. Salinger,

IF YOU REALLY want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my awkward, Asian childhood was like, and if my parents actually had lives before they had me, and all that moody, wannabe rebel of society kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, honestly. I'll just tell you about this stuff that happened to me before the Christmas of my eighteenth year.

I had just been rejected from a program I really wanted to be involved in, and found myself questioning my use in the world even more often than usual. This train of thought quickly went from not being accepted to failing school to not getting into college to not getting a career to not getting married to never helping the world in any way, shape, or form to living with myself with only my mother and literature to keep me company.

Was I that socially inept that the program didn't want free labor? My parents weren't saying it, but I know they were probably thinking it: failure; it's just how Asians are wired. But then I found myself picking up The Catcher in the Rye amidst this depressing haze of chocolate and final exams. 

I initially planned on not finishing your book; I hated Holden. I hated his red hunting hat. I hated how he couldn't focus on one topic. I hated how he judged every little thing about everyone without even trying to know them. I hated how he had to do something every minute, yet really didn't do anything at all. And I hated how he always thought about calling Jane, but never did. 

Holden was obviously in love with Jane, in his own crazy way. She was the only person besides ones of his family members that he didn't think was a phony. And uncovering the phoniness of others was kind of his thing. His attempts at contacting Jane are what probably kept me reading; I had to know if he would ever just talk to her. Of course, he never did - she never even made an appearance in the book - and that what if post-reading stage frustrated me. 

But it was then I realized that, like all tales of stereotypical teenage angst, my troubled demeanor could be solved by applying the moral of the book I was reading at the current time to my life. I couldn't become Holden. I couldn't just sit back and just think about things, I had to actually do them. I'd held this horrible subconscious sentiment that I was entitled to things; I always thought I worked hard, but I realized that in reality...I didn't. I was - and am - pretty lazy.

Well, not lazy in the sense I never do my homework or do any type of physical activity. I run on the school team, and I always do my homework, but these elements are the very thing that caused the root of my mindset. I mean lazy in the sense that I don't really give it my all. I realized that I couldn't use my current achievements as a safety blanket for the future - I had to put on my big girl pants and get out of my comfort zone. I want to make an impact.

Another element of your novel that intrigued me was the quote, "It's hopeless, anyways. If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the 'F--- you' signs in the world. It's impossible." However, it wasn't the agreement with these words that attracted me; it was that I disagreed with them wholeheartedly. Even while facing the cold hard truth that all of the world's troubles can never be solved, we need to be working to improve something. You can't just sit there with a detached disposition while the world burns down, however hopeless the situation may seem. You need to be on the frontlines, throwing buckets of water onto the fire. 

THAT'S ALL I'm going to tell you about. I could probably tell you what I did after I had this epiphany, and how I got the flu and all, and what I'm doing this summer, after I get out of here, but I don't feel like it. I really don't. 

A lot of people, especally my parents, keep asking me how I'm going to apply myself. It's such a stupid question. I mean, how do you know what you're actually going to do until it happens? You don't. 

Christine Lee