Book Review: My Salinger Year

renee boss

In an agency with wood paneling and thick draperies reminiscent of twentieth-century office design, a young college graduate finds herself seated at a desk with a Rolodex and an enormous IBM Selectric, typing form letters for hours on end.

Tasked with processing J.D. Salinger’s voluminous fan mail, Joanna reads heart-breaking letters from around the world and grows weary of sending the agency’s form response, so she begins writing back. In doing so, she develops her own humorous voice as a writer.

Joanna Rakoff’s memoir, My Salinger Year, is a tale of self-discovery and a desire for happiness. The book reads like a coming-of-age novel with a protagonist finding her way in the old literary publishing world of New York City before the digital revolution transformed the book publishing industry.

Part of the beauty in Rakoff’s memoir is that her love of reading for pleasure is restored as she sheds her academic approach to literature. She picks up Salinger’s works for the first time and learns to appreciate the effect literature can have on one’s life.

Whether we are experiencing our first job, are mid-career, or are retired, our professional lives as women evoke universal ideas. We learn to cope and thrive and develop a tougher skin. We delicately balance our personal and professional lives and are reminded as Rakoff aptly states in her memoir “in literature, as in life, sometimes there are no right answers.”


Renee believes we all have a story and advocates continuously for sharing & improving these stories. An educator and activist for eradicating inequities in our world, Renee believes access to quality education is a right for everyone. On the C&W blog Renee explores her creative side by offering thoughts on a variety of books from her book a week reading list.
Renee lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband and two sons.
Twitter: @renee_boss,


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