The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain Release Date: 1884 Publisher: Wisehouse Classics (Note: publisher of the edition I read, not the original publisher) Fiction/American Classic Standalone Novel (this book can be tied together with the Tom Sawyer books, but it’s not really a series) Number of Pages: 190 Kindle Edition Source: Amazon free download Rating: PG-13 Read 3/10/17 to 3/12/17
When this was the book picked for my book club, I thought I hadn’t read it before. I knew I had read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer but for some reason didn’t think I had continued on after that. Then, once I was done with Tom Sawyer, I felt there were a lot of things I must have remembered incorrectly. Nope, I just was meshing the books together in my brain. Turns out I had read Huck Finn.
As with Tom Sawyer, I found that this book lost some of its charm with re-reading. I am actually a huge fan of the character Huck Finn though. Although he’s racist, he wouldn’t have been considered racist in his time. In fact, he would have been thought of as an Abolitionist. Really, Huck has a great moral compass for a boy his age in the times he was living. I think that, in addition to the fact that he’s on quite the adventure with a lot of things happening along the way, is the reason I like the first 2/3 of this story more than Tom Sawyer.
But then you get to the last part of the story. Huck is traveling with an escaped slave, Jim, down the Mississippi River trying to get to an area of free land so Jim can go ashore and work on getting his family back together. They have many mishaps and crazy things happen along the way; in fact they both ran away separately and didn’t actually plan to be traveling together. Huck and Jim meeting up is one of the crazy things that happen on its own. When Huck and Jim end up with a couple of con artists on their raft, things seem to come to a grinding halt in the story. In both Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn I skimmed a lot since Mark Twain was very wordy. I don’t necessarily recommend you do that if it’s your first read through, but it is what I did on this second read through. This section of the book just gets convoluted. From the con artists (The Duke and the Dauphin) to a whole coincidental meet-up with Tom Sawyer where Tom pretends to be his own little brother while Huck pretends to be Tom. It’s just so much!
Just like with Tom Sawyer, I feel if you haven’t read Huck Finn you should. More so even than The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn really deals with a lot of the racism and thoughts of minorities as a whole of the time.
The general consensus of my book club was that the book seemed to get away from Mark Twain once it reached the duke and dauphin part. A few of the ladies (who had not read Tom Sawyer) did not like Tom at all and thought he was selfish. I tend to think that Tom, although not rich, was raised in a manner that he wasn’t wanting for anything. He was a preteen and did not yet fully understand that not everything is a game. He always wanted adventure. He made saving Jim into a grand scheme because it gave him that adventure he was seeking. He had not yet really seen the real world and did not understand the situation was actually life and death. Where Huck had always let Tom take the lead and did so again even though he had reservations about the methods they were employing.
I’d say we had an even mix of those that didn’t enjoy the book, those who saw the merit of the book but wouldn’t read it again, and those that truly enjoyed reading a classic. It was nice that we could all see each other’s point of view. Plus the book sparked some interesting discussions on racism then and now. The way we use our words and how different generations view such words. Remember, we ranging in age from early 30s to late 60s so there are many varying viewpoints. I wish I could share some of that particular discussion with you but I feel it would be an invasion of privacy of my fellow club members. Although I made it no secret this was not my favorite book, I would urge you to read it with your book club if you have one. Not even to really discuss the book but to have some open discussions on the way different people are treated.
We are reading Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs for our next book club. It’s another one of those where we’ll read the first book but can continue on in the series if we have time. We’ll be meeting on Sunday, May 7, 2017. Expect a post on the book and the discussion some time that following week. And please, read along with us and share your thoughts.