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Tom Sawyer is the first great coming of age American novel. In addition, Tom Sawyer is one of the most endearing characters in American fiction. This wonderful book deals with all the challenges that any young person faces, and resolves them in exciting and unusual ways.
Like many young people, Tom would rather be having fun than going to school and church. This desire to enjoy life is always getting him into trouble, from which he finds unusual and imaginative solutions. One of the great scenes in this book has Tom persuading his friends to help him whitewash a fence by making them think that nothing could be finer than doing his punishment for playing hooky from school. When I first read this story, it opened up my mind to the potential power of persuasion.
Tom also is given up for dead and has the unusual experience of watching his own funeral and hearing what people really thought of him. That's something we all should be able to do. By imagining what people will say at our funeral, we can help establish the purpose of our own lives. Mark Twain has given us a powerful tool for self-examination in this wonderful sequence.
Tom and Huck Finn also witness a murder, and have to decide how to handle the fact that they were not supposed to be there and their fear of retribution from the murderer, Injun Joe.
Girls are a part of Tom's life, and Becky Thatcher and he have a remarkable adventure in a cave with Injun Joe. Any young person will remember the excitement of being near someone they cared about alone in this vignette.
Tom stands for the freedom that the American frontier offered to everyone. His aunt Polly represents the civilizing influence of adults and towns. Twain sets up a rewarding novel that makes us rethink the advantages of both freedom and civilization. In this day of the Internet frontier, this story can still provide valuable lessons about listening to our inner selves and acting on what they have to say. Enjoy looking for fun in new ways!
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on 5 January 2008
For some reason I decided to re-read this over Christmas (I hadn't read it since I was at school) and I'm so glad I did because it was much more fun and far more interesting and perceptive than I remembered.

It draws a picture of a time and place I know little about but seemed utterly convincing and I was really struck by the amount of superstition the characters in the book displayed - adults as well as children. Parts of it reminded me of my own childhood (in Essex - a long way from the Mississippi!), parts of it were very touching and parts of it were laugh out loud funny.

It's a gentle read, and the writing is both stylish and wry. I'm going to re-read Huck Finn as soon as I get time!
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on 21 July 2005
This is an enjoyable book with language used by olden day children, which gives excellent effect. It has thrilling and exciting chapters and adventures which are sometimes funny, strange or even scary. Mark Twain used a lot of adjectives to describe scenes, settings and characters. Something like "In a DREARY mood". He made the book Adventurous, Funny and Legendary. The characters in the book are well described and sounded really interesting. Mark Twain also used strong verbs and adverbs to make the story come to life. I think a lot of people would enjoy reading it.
I would recommend that children aged 10-13 to read this book. However people younger or older can as easily enjoy it as much as anyone else.
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on 8 August 2014
It was one of those books that I always heard about people saying have you read it? Why not you should.! Now that I have read it I am asking myself why did I not read it sooner? absolutely a classic. Highly recommended for all you teenagers who are bored to inspire you to get out there and have your own adventure. Get reading.
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on 17 August 2009
Mark Twain was a great writer, plain and simple. It's been a while since I read his other great book, where Hucklebery Finn is the main protagonist, and I seem to remember liking that one better, but this one is also very good, and lacks nothing, in and of itself. I would disagree with anyone who would argue that this book is mostly for children, because I don't think that a child would appreciate it as much as an adult would. Mark Twain seemed to know people very well, and his insight shines through in almost every character and action in the book. He portrays children as childen are, even today, and that is not as easy as it sounds, when most of us have lost the ability to remember what we were like at that magical age. He also had a great imagination, and even though it can sometimes be difficult to picture certain scenes, because of the setting and unfamiliar names of things, his descriptions are still vivid and well-written. He reminds me a bit of Dickens at times, in his style, but I consider him more intelligent and more perspicacious than Dickens, while meaning no disrespect towards the latter, whom I have always enjoyed. Twain was both intelligent and light-hearted, and that's why his books are both enjoyable and refreshing. This book is a classic, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes to read.
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on 16 January 2012
More than just an exciting and funny adventure story, this has a real connection with the characters that makes it and them seem real.

This is one of my all time favourite books - superbly written, with a cracking plot, wonderful characterisations, tender, knowing and wise - what more can you ask? Oh it's very funny too.

Based on Twain's own boyhood, the setting is St Petersburg, a small town somewhere along the banks of the Mississippi in the mid 1800s. Tom Sawyer, a lad of indeterminate age, lives with his loving but disapproving aunt Polly and rather too perfect half brother Sid and cousin Mary. Tom, although he has a good heart, is far from perfect but Twain draws him on a big canvass so that his loves, dreams, ambitions, disappointments, fears and agitations, although routed in the everyday adventures and routines of boyhood, are deeply felt and magnified. Tom is a total boy, loyal to his friends, fierce in a fight, desperate for love, eager for adventure and with a wild imagination. He is totally idle except when he takes an interest, he loves his family but is always causing problems and getting into trouble.

Twain sets Tom out on a series of mishaps and circumstances that serve to introduce his wider cast of characters - Huckleberry Finn is an uneducated stray, whom Tom befriends; Becky Harper is the judge's daughter and Tom's on-off sweetheart, Injun Joe is the town's villain around whom the book's plot settles. These early episodes establish Twain's characters but give way to a set up where Injun Joe is in mortal opposition to Tom and Huck Finn. Tom gets deeper and deeper into trouble but his fear of Joe prevents him from explaining himself. Eventually he and Becky encounter Joe when they are on the point of death, but (I don't want to spoil the plot) it turns out heroically for Tom and Huck in the end.

Although it is a children's story this work has more tension, humanity, thought and heart than many books written for adults. It's an old fashioned adventure yarn written by a master story teller who can look straight into the souls of each of his characters and recreate their emotions directly in the reader's mind - impressive.
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on 19 June 2015
This is a thoroughly enjoyable book and puts me in heart for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which others say is a much more accomplished work. It must be pretty good, then, because although TS is ostensibly written for children, it has enough dark waters and a genuinely worrying villain for any self-respecting adult to savour (now who else does that remind me of, Ms Rowling?). For all his mischief, Tom inhabits an orderly world where strict hierarchies - not all acceptable today - keep everyone in their place, although this isn't to the liking of free spirit Huck Finn. It is this quality, as much as the thrillingly paced adventures, that lends the book much of its appeal, in the way that someone once remarked Trollope's cosy fiction was always such a relief after the stresses and strains of real life. However, Tom and Becky's terrifying ordeal in the cave is a masterpiece of sustained suspense, and the sticky end of one character more at home in a modern horror tale than here, even if some of the buried treasure nonsense is less convincing. If you haven't tried Mark Twain before this is the perfect starting point - just let the current take you along.
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on 17 August 2014
I read this before I read Huckleberry Finn and found this book hilarious in parts and wondered about the imagination of the author. This was a great adventure and ought to be read by youths whose parents have grounded them, or will not allow them out to hang around acting like Tom Sawyer on
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on 12 February 2007
Whatever age you are, this book is sure to enjoyed by all. Some people will read it as a purely entertaining account of the childhood of an over-imaginative but loveable boy. Even today, Toms exploits reverberate with growing up, and the pure joy of being young and free. Sadly, in a world of growing regulation and overprotectiveness by parents, some of the adventures of Tom Sawyer will not sadly be enjoyed by todays average twelve-year-old, but are still sure to be understood and provide amusement to all young people.

It is difficult to compare this novel with Huckleberry Finn, and at times seems to be written by a different author. That said, it typifies much of Mark Twain, and the area of the US in which he grew up, without relating too much to the serious issues that lie just under the surface of Huck Finn.

Overall, it is a book that deserves to be read, preferably as a child, and by those [slightly older people] that remember growing up and getting up to some of Toms adventures as a child, and want to reminisce.
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on 8 November 2013
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