The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Of all Mark Twain's considerable gifts, perhaps the greatest was that which allowed him to remember just what it was like to be a kid.
Childhood is not the time of whimsical innocence that adults tend to revise it as, but a plight of constant stresses, unlimited analysis and grandiose plans constructed, obliterated and reformed. His portrait of Tom Sawyer is of a troubled young genius longing to find his place in the world, bristling against the unnatural restrictions society thrusts upon him.
Twain revels in the elaborate rituals and flighty superstitions of his small-town, mid-19th century youth. He treats Sawyer, Huck Finn and their orbit of pals with respect and dignity, while casting the adults who surround them as hapless stooges. In a sense, he sees the world just as he did as a child, and just as children continue to do. Kids have a fresh-eyed way of breaking down the nonsense that adults surround themselves with, and Twain never lost that sense of incisive deconstruction.
As he does in "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," Audible narrator Nick Offerman channels the late author's sly wittiness and thick, Southern-fried bravado. Offerman's existence is a compelling argument that reincarnation exists, and Twain's voice has come back in the form of his thick baritone.
As beautifully descriptive as it is wickedly funny, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" transcends its genre of young adult literature and takes its place among the ranks of glorious fiction. Its lessons and philosophical observations are as timeless and golden as the ephemeral, daring glow of youth.
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