The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Book Review

Dripping with Mark Twain’s iconic wit and wisdom, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer chronicles young Tom and his best friend Huckleberry Finn on a life-changing journey of mischief, intrigue, and excitement.

This is a rambling series of vignettes that seem to all take place in about a year’s span of Tom’s childhood. He lives with his brother Syd, Cousin Amy and their Aunt Polly in a village along the Mississippi in the heydays of the riverboats and water transportation and the Pre-Civil War era. Tom is intrepid and mischievous and he’s a fun scamp to go along with. Many of his adventures are light and easily dealt with like talking a bunch of boys into getting him through his chore punishment, the first crush, pretend games and late-night outings, but there is a dangerous adventure that brings Tom and Huck to witness a murder and encounter some dangerous thieves.

I think I appreciated this more as an adult than I did as a kid. It’s rather nostalgic and I can see why twain would call it his Ode to Boyhood. Those days are long gone when boys- when kids played like this so it was a delight. Makes me want to instantly grab up The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

I love how adventurous, free-spirited, independent and curious Tom Sawyer and his friends are, just like my own son. I think today’s helicopter/over-protective parents would faint and die at all of these kids’ adventures. They roam wild and free… until returning home for supper and bedtime prayers. 😉 I like how Tom Sawyer is in the middle of the bunch in terms of standing– he’s not a ragtag son of a hobo like Huck Finn but he’s also not the richest or most upstanding boy in school (although he is able to pull off stunts so elaborate that even the esteemed Judge Thatcher, Becky’s father, admires him… and in the end, Tom really does earn and deserve his reputation that he earlier faked his way into). I feel bad for him not having a mother or father and having to live with the brown-nosing teacher’s/parent’s pet cousin Sid, but I think he manages to stay quite happy with his imagination and adventures, and that he does love his Aunt Polly and she him… although I wish she and every other adult in the book would lay off the child beatings!

A story which can stand the test of time. Whether you’re 6 or 60, there’s plenty of character- and more importantly, “characters”- in these tall tales. Reading this for the second time has not diminished its appeal. Part of it is the plot (and plotting), but what elevates this book to classic status is the subtle way in which the narrator inserts small asides. More often than not these moments expose just how laughable social norms are, and how ridiculous we are in our humanity. This being said, the modern reader who has no experience with antebellum American literature should be warned. This story was written when slavery was a part of everyday life and the language reflects this.

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