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Twain at his best!
on 25 August 2004
Back during my school days this was still not a book that was considered to be politically incorrect and so I was supposed to read it. As was far to often the case, I got by on little more than watching the movie version and never bothered to read this masterpiece. A few months ago I picked up a copy to put in my library for my grandson to use when he got old enough to go to school. Unfortunately this has been classified as a children's book and so I had little intention of reading it when I bought it.
After discussing a book about President Grant and Mark Twain with a friend I decided that I should read this book and I soon found out just how much of an adventure I had been missing. Twain's well deserved reputation as a storyteller is on clear display in this book from cover to cover. The reader is drawn into the lives of the characters to the point of being really disturbed when something bad happens to them. Sure, they steal and they lie but you will love them in spite of everything.
The story basically follows the adventures of young Huckleberry Finn and a runaway slave named Jim. Finn is trying to escape has father and the efforts of the townspeople to civilize him while Jim is trying to escape slavery. More to the point, Jim is trying to escape being sold down the river, which was always a worry for slaves in the upper south.
There is a strong moral point to this book as Huck slowly learns to love Jim as a friend and not think of his skin color. Early on Huck is worried about helping a runaway slave and isn't sure what to do. Having been raised in Missouri, Huck has been taught that helping a slave run away is one of the worst sins imaginable and that African-Americans are pretty much worthless except as slaves. It takes a while for the truth to come to Huck but he finds that he is determined to help his friend get his freedom, no matter what. Huck ends up risking his own life to do just that.
This book is a pure joy to read and I suggest you read it without looking for a political agenda. Just let the story flow and enjoy each word. The dialects used may slow you down a bit at first but they add so much to the flow of the book that they are quite indispensable. This is a wonderful story, full of youthful innocence and backwoods charm. Just one little warning though, once you start reading you won't be able to put this book down.