Margaret Salinger's autobiographical memoir reveals what was like to grow up in a dysfunctional family headed by a man who was a legend. She talks about J. D.'s service in World War II his marriage to her British born mother, and his escape to Cornish, NH, but most of th book is devoted to her own life, her relations to her parents and the effects of these relations on the rest of her life. As a young child she was the apple of her father's eye, but as she grew older he seemed to take less and less interest in her. He stopped living in the same house as the family, and later divorced his wife. The children were sent off to private schools which Margaret found a paticularly unhappy experience. From the eighth grade on she lived away from her father. As she grew older, he seemed to grow further away. He was less and less likely to be supportive. He often made her feel as though she were sponging on him. She felt he had an ideal of what she should be, "a swell girl," and it was an ideal she could never reach, an ideal no one could ever reach. In the end she suffers a variety of physical and mental breakdowns, has difficulties with relationships, and even attempts suicide. Recovery is only possible when she begins to question her father's values.
This report prepared by Jack Goodstein