Hi y’all and Happy November!
I’m excited to be finally be posting a new review! As usual, I’m a bit behind schedule on my reviews. It’s a goal of mine to publish 5 reviews this month which is definitely possible. So here’s the first one.
Today I’m talking about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I read the prequel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, earlier this year, and it was fun to be back in the Tom Sawyer universe. These stories are lighthearted enough for older kids but profound enough for adults to enjoy as well.
- I listened to a (surprisingly) good free audiobook of this novel. And it was a lot of fun to listen to! I think hearing the different Southern accents and dialects helped me understand them better. Plus, this is an easy book to follow while making dinner or exercising.
- I was really impressed that the raft held together so well down the river. They even built a wigwam on it!
- The descriptions of life on the river were fascinating. It was such a singular time in American history that I don’t know much about. I enjoyed reading about this time and place more.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain follows Tom Sawyer’s friend Huck as he has a series of adventures along the Mississippi River with Jim and a cast of colorful (and sometimes ridiculous) characters. According to Goodreads, “The story of Huck and his companion Jim, a runaway slave, as they travel down the Mississippi to escape from slavery and “sivilization” has been delighting readers around the world since Twain first published it in 1885. Simply put, it is a masterpiece: revolutionary in its narrative method, surpassingly funny, and at the same time deeply perceptive about human nature. No other American novel of the nineteenth century still commands so vast an audience, and certainly no other retains the capacity to stir controversy with its sharp satire on American racism.”
“Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and a body ain’t got no business doing wrong when he ain’t ignorant and knows better.”
“If you tell the truth you do not need a good memory!”
“It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened”
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The characters in this novel are vibrant, endearing and ridiculous. I enjoyed Huck’s narrations of his adventures and his innocent yet interesting view on people and places. He was a very likable protagonist. His adventurous spirit and carefree interactions with people were fun to read. I really liked Jim as well. He was loyal and kind despite some of the difficult places Huck leads him into. Tom Sawyer was as over the top and slightly ridiculous as ever. The King and the Duke were just silly and I got tired of them long before they went away. I’m glad Huck and Jim stuck together throughout the story.
I enjoyed the short stories comprising each chapter because they were plot driven and clever but would have liked more overall cohesion to the story. There is rarely a dull moment on the river from swindlers and steamboats, to imposters and family feuds, to dead men and slave escapes. So many clever and sometimes silly things happen. My favorite adventure was the ending scheme when Huck and Tom meet unexpectedly and plan an elaborate escape for Jim that gets more complicated by the minute. I laughed out loud several times! I also enjoyed Huck’s initial escape from his Pa and how he covered his tracks. And Huck’s ability to make up elaborate stories on the spot to cover up his lies. However, there were several I didn’t enjoy as well like the murderous family feud and the many swindling schemes of the Duke and the King. I was relieved when they left all those characters behind. I think more focus on the main story line with Jim’s escape with Huck would have been more interesting.
This novel is a lot darker than it’s predecessor about Tom Sawyer. I was surprised by some of the repeated foul language in this book. It is not a book to read aloud unless you change some of the words. There are also some intense themes discussed including slavery, racism, and even child abuse. That surprised me. But I also appreciate the way Twain discusses difficult topics within the context of his lighter narrative. Not only that, Huck also has some profound monologues about right and wrong, repentance, and God. I was impressed by the way he worked through difficult decisions and moral quandaries. This is a great novel to use to introduce these types of topics and ways of thinking to kids. The conversations could be really neat. However, I think I will wait until my kids are a bit older (more like 10+) to read this one.
Overall, this is a fun adventure story with a likable main character. I would recommend reading this one closer to when you finish Tom Sawyer as there is a lot of overlap of characters and the events start right after that one. I enjoyed the simple, quick storytelling and the fun characters. Not my favorite classic, but definitely worth reading.
Which do you prefer–Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn?