This is a book I first read many years ago and have recently re-encountered. I did have reservations. I am not sure how its children’s classic status has been affected in America by its historical racism and casual use of pejorative racial terms. I’m sure someone will tell me whether this book is still much read by pre-teens in its original format or whether it is expurgated versions that are most often available. I read it as a free Kindle Classic book in the form it was published in 1876 and it does still remain one of the most readable and entertaining of the Nineteenth Century Children’s Classics.
The book sparkles along with sequences that are funny, touching and even, at times, genuinely frightening. It feels like a pre-cursor of one of the greatest books ever written – “To Kill A Mockingbird” as it shares the same sense of nostalgia in childhood and the unwitting danger of children finding their place and making sense of the adult world. There’s surely one of the most audacious moments in literature when the boys escape to an island to become pirates. Tom returns home secretly and discover the three are believed dead, Tom keeps quiet and return to the island with them coming back to witness their own funerals. Injun Joe remains an extremely effective threatening villain despite having any real contact with Tom and Huck. I know that reputation-wise “Huckleberry Finn” is reputed to be the stronger book and I don’t think I have ever read that. I am looking forward to doing so and digging further into the work of this re-discovered author.