Pretty much every halfway decent novel with a teenage narrator gets compared to The Catcher in the Rye. Usually the author’s a big phony, passing off YA crap as fancy literature.
Not Bryan Charles, whose debut, Grab Onto Me Tightly as if I Knew the Way, is a stellar read. His messed-up, seriously melancholy, punk-rock romantic narrator, Vim Sweeney, is the true-blue modern incarnation of Holden Caulfield.
If Salinger’s boy had graduated from high school in the mid-’90s in small-town Michigan, he would have played in a lame band, fallen for the drummer’s sexy depressive girlfriend, quit his dish-washing job for no reason, written imaginary letters to his absentee father, made smart remarks to cover up his sadness, and just about fallen apart from how heartbreaking and funny and stupid and excellent life is.
Think Salinger sprinkled with Nick Hornby, Chuck Klosterman, Sam Lipsyte, and Matthew Sharpe.
Bottom line? Catch him while you can.
Available online at amazon.com or at your local bookstore.