Book Review: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

I’ve chosen a highly recommended novel, set in one of the countries Phileas Fogg visited, in Jules Verne’s Around The World In Eighty Days, to review.

The final stop on the journey is America, so I have chosen to read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a children’s story which follows Tom Sawyer and his friend Huckleberry Finn as they explore the surrounding area, making up games and going on adventures. When the two boys become accidentally caught up in a murder mystery case, they have to decide whether to keep quiet, and avoid punishment for sneaking out at night, or reveal the truth and risk the wrath of a terrible gang.

I really enjoyed reading this book, as I haven’t read any children’s stories in a while, and it can be really refreshing to read them with an adult perspective.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is an all-round good, boyish, adventure story full of fun and humour. Twain’s style of writing is very sarcastic and witty, and I would love to read more of his work.

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are very superstitious – they are always keeping an eye out for supernatural creatures and discussing various “spells” they can use. It’s light-hearted fun, but has a powerful purpose in the book, as ultimately, this is how they stumble across the scene of the murder.

However, the American language certainly takes some getting used to. As it was written in 1876, there are multiple uses of now archaic words which could trip you up and the dialogue is often written phonetically, to convey accent and tone, but this can also be a challenge to read.

The glaring issue with reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer nowadays, is the blatant use of racist language and stereotypes by the characters. Whilst this was normal at the time, particularly when considering America’s history with racism towards African Americans, I found it uncomfortable to read such discriminatory thoughts and attitudes in a more progressive and accepting era. It’s particularly worrying when you remember that this was a children’s story, and so could have taught white American children to take this attitude too.

Yet, if you can look past the racist comments and understand the lingo, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a genuinely enjoyable book, and Mark Twain is a talented writer.


– Judith


6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

  1. I read both Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huck Finn for the first time this year. I really enjoyed Huck Finn, but was kind of ‘meh’ towards Tom Sawyer. Without a doubt, parts of the novel are uncomfortable to a modern day reader. I appreciated this, as it gives a glimpse of a perspective of life–from a Mississippi River dwelling, Southern white child in the antebellum South. But the racist elements were hard to swallow, both towards African-Americans and American Indians. I read some of Twain’s (Sam Clemens) other writings on American Indians after reading Tom Sawyer, and some of his essays are atrocious. That left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s often challenging when reading classics to ignore the (often) backwards thoughts about people of other cultures, skin colors, etc. Of course, it’s always enlightening to see the way that people thought in the past in order to remind ourselves of how far we’ve come – and how far we sometimes still need to go!

    Liked by 1 person

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