The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Published by Barnes & Noble Classics on March 1, 2015 (first published in 1884)
Genres: classics, historical fiction, coming of age, literary fiction
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Oooh, this book. This book is mischievous.
When I first read it, I probably would have rated it three stars. It was fine, but I didn’t enjoy it; the characters were all right, but I never fully connected with them, and the plot seemed all over the place. In short, I preferred Tom Sawyer much more.
But this book is not all it seems. Yes, it is about the adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but it is also about racism. It is about the hypocrisy of human nature. It is about doing what is morally right versus doing what society thinks is right. It is about growing up, and how maturity and age are sometimes mutually exclusive— how maturity is connected more with personal and moral growth and experience than any number of years. It is about family and friendship and how you can find both in the most unexpected places.
It would be hard for me to explain to you how Huckleberry Finn is all of these things without launching into a rhetorical analysis of the book. But, if you’re curious, I’d say read it for yourself to see if you can find all those messages in this book. It took someone else to lay the trail for me and show me what I was supposed to be looking for; maybe you’ll catch on faster than I did.
Huckleberry Finn is more serious than Tom Sawyer. This book is less about being a boy, and more about becoming a man. Sometimes it’s boring. Sometimes it lags. Sometimes it seems pointless. But the overall messages this book sends are so well-crafted into the story and Huck’s character arc that, if you can overlook the novel’s meandering, I think you’ll find Huckleberry Finn holds a special place in your heart the way it holds one in mine.