Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom SawyerTitle: Tom Sawyer
Author: Mark Twain
Published: 1876 Pages: 184
Genre: Classic Literature
Rating: 4/5

I don’t think I’ve read this book since I was in the seventh grade. There are parts of it that seemed really familiar, like the whitewashing and the incident with the cave, but I’m wondering if those memories are more from watching the Disney movie. Either way, reading this was a really pleasant trip down memory lane and just what I was in the mood for. That Tom Sawyer is one funny fellow—and Huck is even better!

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is the classic tale of a very rambunctious boy of the same name. I don’t think there is any simpler way to put it other than Mark Twain seems to be trying to figure out all the different ways a boy Tom’s age can get in trouble! I had forgotten all of the shenanigans and mischief—the playing pirates and looking for gold and pretending to be bank robbers—just good old fashioned fun. Deep down Tom and Huck are good kids with a little streak of rebellion, and as Twain puts it--most of the trouble they get into is because of the "shouldn'ts" and "can'ts." Once those restrictions are taken away, any type of desire to be "bad" disappears.

Much of the fun of Tom Sawyer is getting to see what the boys will do next, so I won't go any further into what the books is about. It did take me a few chapters to get into the rhythm of Twain's writing, but his writing has a wonderful lyrical style and he is quite humorous. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the witticisms and little philosophical side notes Twain interjected into the book. My favorite part of Tom Sawyer, though, is the dialogue. I had a tougher time with the dialect in Huck Finn, but Tom Sawyer is fairly readable. I'll leave you with two passages--the first is one of my favorite parts of the book when Tom feeds Aunt Polly's cat Painkiller. The second is an example of the dialogue in an exchange between Tom and Huck when they think they've happened upon a treasure of money.

"Peter [the cat] was agreeable. So Tom pried his mouth open and poured down the Painkiller. Peter sprang a couple of yards in the air, and then delivered a war whoop and set off round and round the room, banging against furniture, upsetting flowerpots, and making general havoc. Next he rose on his hind feet and pranced around, in a frenzy of enjoyment, with his head over his shoulder and his voice proclaiming his unappeasable happiness. Then he went tearing around the house again spreading chaos and destruction in his path. Aunt Polly entered in time to see him throw the open window, carrying the rest of the flowerpots with him. The old lady stood petrified with astonishment, peering over her glasses; Tom lay on the floor expiring with laughter" (68).


"I'm going to buy a new drum, and sure-'nough sword, and a red necktie and a bull pup, and get married."
"That's it."
"Tom, you-why, you ain't in your right mind."
"Wait-you'll see."
"Well, that's the foolishest thing you could do. Look at pap and my mother.
Fight! Why, they used to fight all the time. I remember, mighty well."
"That ain't anything. The girl I'm going to marry won't fight."
"Tom, I reckon they're all alike..." (128).

I can just hear the two boys bickering back and forth in my head--usually I don't need a lot of dialogue in books and aren't bothered if the book is text-heavy, but in this case I looked forward to every little exchange. I hope you'll read this book. It is full of fun and southern charm, and although there are probably lessons to be learned from Tom and Huck and their scrapes, I just relaxed with this one and let the adventure sweep me away.

What was the last book you read that was just plain fun?

Also read by Lezlie of Books N Border Collies
**I didn't see many reviews of this one in my very quick search (saw it on a lot of lists!), so if I missed yours, let me know and I'll include the link.


Veronica said...

I've always loved this book. "Huck Finn" not quite as much, but this one is great.

samantha.1020 said...

This is one that I read along time ago and would love to read again. Just reading your review made me want to go and pick it up. Thanks for sharing :)

Laura said...

Yep--I'm definitely reading this one soon! I totally thought the cave adventure happened in Huck Finn. Maybe I should read both! Did reading TS make you want to read Huck Finn again?

bermudaonion said...

It's been a while since I've read this one, but you're right, it's pure fun. It's remained a classic for good reason.

Amanda said...

I didn't think I'd ever read anything by Mark Twain, then I tried reading Huck Finn recently. I got 25 pages into it before realizing I HAD read this in high school afterall, but hadn't really liked it then, so it didn't stick with me. I didn't really like the rereading, either, so I just stopped. I figured I'd read it once and wasn't interested in doing it again. I've never attempted Tom Sawyer, but I think it's just Mark Twain's writing in general that I object to.

verbatim said...

Loved this book, loved your review. Really enjoyed the excerpts you chose. I'm thinking it's not easy to write a review of a book with which most people are familiar.

Lezlie said...

I'm somewhat the opposite of Veronica. I liked Tom Sawyer, but Huck Finn was my fav. I did review Tom Sawyer on my blog:

Talk to you later!

Veens said...

I really started it once, but then somehow never finished it! Not because I didn't like it! Believe me the fence painting scene ae all somethings I really enjoyed... but maybe, I was not in the right mind-frame for this book.

Thank you for reminding, I will most definitely get back to it soon :)

Steph said...

I haven't read Tom Sawyer, but I read Huck Finn last summer and LOVED it. It was fun, but so thoughtful and Actually, I was at the used bookstore today and picked up a beautiful Everyman's Library hardback copy that contains both Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn, so I'll have to read this one soon! Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

Amy said...

I loved this book when I read it. I remember being surprised by just how much.

By book for fun do you mean fun book? I can't remember the last one. But most of the books I read I read for fun. :)

Melody said...

*gasp* Can you believe that I haven't read the book yet?! But I did watch the animation when I was a child. It was fun!

Trish said...

*Veronica - Huck Finn was a much more difficult read for me--I like the story a lot, but the dialect is tough to get through. But ya--this one is so good!

*Samantha - It's a fairly short book, especially my copy, and so much fun to read--hope you can get to it!

*Laura - It does make me want to read Huck Finn again! Although probably not this year. :P You should definitely read this soon.

*Bermuda - I saw something yesterday that mentioned this one wasn't really popular until after Twain died--interesting how those things work out.

*Amanda - What is it about Twain's writing that you don't like? This one is very different from Huck Finn--much easier and a lot more lighthearted.

*Verbatim - I just love that part about the cat and I think Twain does a great job of describing the effects of Painkiller. There wasn't a whole lot for me to say about this one since I didn't do a "deep" reading--just fun!

*Lezlie - Boo--must have been an old review because it didn't pop up in my GReader search. I like the story of Huck Finn better, but this one is easier to read, I think.

*Veens - I was laughing out loud with the fence scene--that Tom Sawyer is such a character! I hope you'll try it again--the language takes some patience, but you'll get the hang of it.

*Steph - Definitely read this one--it's much more lighthearted than Huck Finn is (and much shorter!).

*Amy - LOL--fun book. :) Hopefully most of us are reading mostly for fun, right? Glad you loved this one, too.

*Melody - Read it!! It will take you right back to childhood and hopefully give you a few laughs.

Dar said...

Would you believe I've never read this book. Not when I was in school or otherwise. I had thought about reading it for the Classics Challenge-it sure sounds good. The last book I read that was fun was Dork Diaries.

Amanda said...

Trish - I think it's more of the same thing I was saying to you the other day about southern fiction. There almost seems to be a glorification of ignorance in Huck Finn, like it's great to be illiterate and to act like a criminal. I never understood the mindset of living down-home-country, not wanting to progress both mentally and culturally, so I think Twain just touches a nerve. He does Huck's voice so well - it's just that I hate Huck's voice, you know?

Anonymous said...

Tom Sawyer is such a great read! Although, I'm never sure why they have kids read it in Jr. High because it just doesn't seem that they have the necessary perspectives to enjoy it then.

I notice in your sidebar that Possession might be a Bonus. May I recommend you bump it up to a Must? It's one of my favorite books ever, although it took several attempts to get into it.

Nymeth said...

I love this book so much! It really is a lot of fun. I haven't read it in years, but in my childhood and teens I'd read it again and again. The bit in the cave - SPOILER WARNING: specifically, how Joe dies - seriously got to me. I could imagine being alone in the dark, trying to eat candles and eventually starving to death SO well.[/SPOILERS]

Also, I second what Bellezza said about Possession!

wisteria said...

I always loved this book. It is great to be able to read a book from your childhood when you are an adult. You gain such a different perspective.
I'm sure you were amazed also.
Especially since in school it was probably on a required reading list. No one likes to be forced to read a book at that age.
Have a great week.

Rebecca :) said...

I loved this book when I read it as a teenager. I love the passage you quoted. I find it much funnier now than I did as a teenager (more life experiences and all). I loved Huckleberry Finn too. I saw there is a new book about Becky's side of the story or something like that. I forget now that I am telling you. I am special like that. :P I forgot the cat's name was Painkiller. I love that name.

Trish said...

*Dar - I can't believe you haven't read this! :P If you're looking for a short one for the Classics Challenge, check this one out.

*Amanda - I don't think this one is quite like how you felt about Huck Finn. Sure the kids play Pirates and Robbers, but I don't think it glorifies these things--more just childish fun. In terms of the ignorance, I didn't see that in Tom Sawyer--actually a bit of it took place in the school or in church. Mark Twain also has a lot of really great short stories--but many of them are satirical pieces, so maybe the voice you hear coming out is one of satire? Don't know.

*Bellezza - Several attempts to get into Possession? You're not making an easy sell! :P Actually, I'm a little bit intimidated by it, which is why I've been putting it off, but I'll move it up the list. I can't imagine what I thought when I first read this book--my brother tried to read it last summer and now I understand why he didn't find it so interesting (he was 12 then).

*Nymeth - I love Twain's voice and how he describes the events in the book--and although it was heartbreaking what happened to Joe, I can't say he didn't have it coming to him. :P Moving Possession up...!!

*Wisteria - Well, I was probably 12 when I read this book the first time--such a difference since then! I didn't do a whole lot of required reading--I was a stubborn kid! :) Are there any other good ones that you read as a kid and loved as an adult?

*Rebecca - The part with the Painkiller is hilarious, and I especially love when Tom gets the other kids to do the whitewashing for him. There were many moments where I laughed out loud. I'll have to look for Becky's story!

Literary Feline said...

It's been ages since I read this one and Huckleberry Finn. Both were such fun reads. I've seen the movie a dozen or so times over the years and probably remember that more than I do the book. Someday I may have to reread it.

Jeanette said...

I had planned to read 3-4 of Mark Twain's books this year but have not read one yet. There is still time but I don't think I'll meet my 3-4 book goal. Oh well. :-)

Anonymous said...

I haven't read this but I have The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in my TBR pile. Is it necessary to read this book to read Huckleberry Finn?

Michelle said...

Just a bit of trivia: this book was "banned" because it says the word sweat instead of perspiration. Now that is ridiculous! I love this book.

Stephanie said...

I always loved this book. In fact, I think I liked it better than Huck Finn!! Tom Sawyer reminds me of my brother!

Sheila DeChantal said...

I have to read this! Sadly I never have... in fact most of the greats that were regular school curriculum were not at my school and I don't know if I should be annoyed that I missed that - or thankful that I get to read them now when I am more mature.... :)

Fun read? Hmmm.... Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton

Anonymous said...

I used to have an abridged classics version of this and read it at least once a year in elementary school. Huck Finn may have been more literary, but this is by far my favorite Mark Twain. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Trish said...

*Lit Feline - I definitely don’t remember reading this one but it did seem so familiar due to watching the movie. I think re-reading Huck Finn would be similar after seeing the movie often as a kid. Definitely re-read this. It’s so short and fun.

*Jeanette - You still have half a year to meet your goal! Good news is this one is short so it won’t take too much time. Could you substitute in some of his short stories for the longer works?

*Violetcrush - Although Huck is in both books I don’t think you need to read this one before the other. Not even sure if Huck Finn references anything that happens in Tom Sawyer?

*Michelle - You’re kidding! I didn’t realize this one was on the banned book list but I know Huck Finn is for the language (at least). Have you read Huck Finn?

*Stephanie - Haha! I’m guessing your brother is a little mischievous? This one is definitely a little more lighthearted than Huck Finn is. I haven’t read HF in about 10 years so I can’t really judge which I like better.

*Sheila - Definitely be thankful that you can read them now that you are more mature. I read this probably 15 years ago and probably hated it back then. :) I’ve been hearing good things about Wednesday Sisters but haven’t read it.

*sequesterednooks - I really need to re-read Huck Finn so I can say which I like better, but from what I remember this one definitely is a lot more fun. I think an abridged copy would be perfect for youngsters!