Novel: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Author: Mark Twain
Target Audience: In the author’s note, Twain says it’s for children and adults.
Publication Year: 1876
Setting: St. Petersburg, Missouri; thirty or forty years before publication (1836-1846)
A Favorite Quote: “They said they would rather be outlaws a year in Sherwood Forest than President of the United States forever.”
My One Sentence Summary: Mischievous but good-hearted, Tom embarks on a series of adventures from playing pirates to witnessing a murder in the graveyard at midnight.
What I loved about this book: Twain’s rich humor permeates every page—he has a totally unique voice—and a talent for satire and irony. Tom’s adventures are largely based on Twain’s childhood experiences, and nostalgia for youth permeates the piece. In keeping with this tone, this book has a sense of freedom. Tom ditches school, sneaks out the window, and runs away to an island. He faces bigger issues, but often escapes from the pressures of the world to enjoy life, and every madcap adventure ends in a fun twist.
Major themes: The importance of childhood; youth and freedom from adult responsibilities; integrity—doing the right thing in spite of the potential cost to oneself
Who should read this book: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a classic—a rollicking adventure full of fun and drama—Tom’s antics are entertaining, but Twain’s writing style is not always easily understood (between his dialogue and dense sentence structures). Unabridged versions of the novel are probably best for those with strong reading skills. Some language and attitudes are offensive, so approach with caution.