Book Review: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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Book Review: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Temitope Johnson discusses the themes of slavery and superstition in one of Mark Twain's most well-known novels

Review written by Temitope Johnson, teen volunteer. 

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain is a classic novel set in St. Petersburg, Missouri in the 1840s and follows the childhood of Tom Sawyer who is a mischievous and imaginative boy who gets on wild adventures that have bigger implications than it seems. There are many characters that intertwine with his story: Huck Finn, his partner in adventures, Becky Thatcher, Tom’s love interest, or Injun Joe, the main antagonist to Tom. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer creates a story that brings you back to your childhood memories through things Tom and Huck gets up to. Mark Twain uses the innocence of childhood and humor while taking the opportunity to comment on the social norms of the time like slavery and the belief of superstitions. Although there is some very shocking language, it doesn’t reflect what Twain thinks; it is there for the setting for feel more realistic at a time where slavery still existed, especially in a state like Missouri. 

I believe this novel is better for adults because of the language used and the shift between childhood and adult matters like the children at one point thinking of drowning themselves. This book reminded me of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor because of focus on the children’s stories, the similar settings, and at one point in both books, characters are testifying in a court case.  All in all, I think this book is a must to read for anyone mature enough to handle it and I believe it informs you about the time period right before the Civil War. There is a reason why this book is regarded as a classic. I highly recommend this book for entertainment and the important lessons you can learn.