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Book Review: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

by Vidya Sury December 10, 2013 31 comments
Book review tom sawyer vidya sury

I am proud to review Mark Twain’s Classic “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” today. If you haven’t read this book, please grab a copy right away and read it.

Book Title: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer By Mark Twain


First published in 1876, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is widely perceived as a children’s adventure story. The specialty of this book is that it revolves around the adventures of a young adolescent boy around the mid-nineteenth century, which is something that will appeal to everyone who reads the book, regardless of their age. For the adult reader, the story is reminiscent of his or her own childhood and for the child, a series of fun episodes he or she yearns to be a part of.

A quick synopsis

Tom Sawyer is young, imaginative and mischievous and lives with his Aunt Polly and half-brother Sid in a Mississippi town. The story opens with Tom’s Aunt Polly looking for Tom to question him about some missing jam. He gets in trouble at school and as punishment, has to spend his Saturday whitewashing her fence while his friends are enjoying themselves. But the clever Tom convinces his friends that it is a fun job – and they end up trading stuff with him to get a chance to whitewash the fence.

book review vidya sury tom sawyer

A young girl, Becky Thatcher moves into town and Tom falls in love with her. They have a tiff and Tom is off to the town graveyard with his best friend Huckleberry Finn, where they witness the wicked Injun Joe murder Doctor Robinson. When this comes to light, Injun Joe blames Muff Potter. Obviously this is too much for a young Tom to take, and he is afraid to tell what he knows.

He, Huck and their friend Joe Harper decide to become pirates and camp on an island in the river. When they come to know that Aunt Polly thinks they are all dead and a funeral is planned, they return home in a hurry. Once back, Tom feels braver and decides to testify against Injun Joe, who escapes from the law.

Without adding spoilers, I’d like to highlight the main scenes, which, besides the whitewashed fence, include the Sunday school episode, Tom and his friend Becky Thatcher getting lost in a cave, the graveyard scene with Tom and Huck Finn, Tom and Huck witnessing a murder, and their association with Injun Joe, followed by their hunt for his treasure. Each scene ties in with the overall story, building a vibrant picture of the lives of the various characters in the book.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Book Review
My Review

Mark Twain (1835-1910) is a master at weaving words with wit and he tells the story of the young Tom Sawyer. Through the book, you will sense the moral, psychological and intellectual development of Tom, its central character. A beautifully written story, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer combines the past with the present in a way that the reader will personally identify with. The book speaks of life in the Mississippi River town where Twain himself spent his youth.

In this book you will experience a strong dose of humor, a lot of nostalgia, the innocence of childhood, superstitions, murder, revenge and slavery – all of which are ingredients for a classic story. Twain also wrote “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” a series of episodes related to the adventure to free the slave Jim.

If you are an adult reading the book, you will sense the typically Twain satire that runs through the story criticizing the eccentricities and hypocrisies of human nature.

The overall tone of the book is obviously humorous. For children reading the book, the adventures are quite exciting. Although this book is believed to be for young adults and adults, I remember reading the “whitewashing of the fence” in middle school in an English text book. The book is in narrative style, by an adult who sees the world cynically yet sentimentally when he dwells on his childhood with nostalgia.

Interesting: The Table of contents is followed by a timeline of Mark Twain’s life.

Suitable for age group: Recommended for everyone who is ten years and older.

Rating: Must-read. Five out of Five stars. Classics like these are hard to come by!

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Fab December 10, 2013 at 7:24 am

I remember reading the white washing scene in school too! Never read the book after that – should pick it up some day :-). It’s nice to read about real boys and girls after all the fantasy and vampire stuff going around these days. Great review!
Fab recently posted…Book Review – Eat That Frog!

Seeta December 10, 2013 at 10:18 am

One of the best books I have ever read. English classics made me fall in love with books. Kids today hardly know about them, it is a rather sad state of things 🙁
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Shilpa Garg December 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm

I remember reading this book in school. After reading your review, feel like reading it again. Must get one and ask AG to read too!
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Carol Graham December 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm

I agree – these books started me on my journey decades ago
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Robyn December 10, 2013 at 4:27 pm

This is one of the many books that I read as a child, but really need to reread again as an adult!

Bhagyashree December 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm

I don’t know how many times I have read this book and every time I enjoyed it

Obsessivemom December 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm

To tell you the truth Vidya I was wondering what you’d do in a review of such a widely read widely heard of book but I so enjoyed your post. I love Mark Twain’s tongue in cheek humour and his quotes are to die for.
Obsessivemom recently posted…Arranged Marriage

Sid December 10, 2013 at 5:08 pm

I can never forget the whitewashing scene. Thanks for the memories and ofcourse the review 🙂

Proactive Indian December 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Yes, the whitewashing scene was included in one of our English textbooks in Mumbai. That made me borrow the book from the school library and read it. Excellent book!

Your well-written review would make readers introduce the book to their kids. The story, which is appealing to kids, and Mark Twain’s lovely style would get kids hooked on to the reading habit.
Proactive Indian recently posted…Punished for being poor?

Jairam Mohan December 10, 2013 at 5:42 pm

This book and Huckleberry Finn were among the very first books that I have ever read and hold a special place in my heart. It was only years later that I learnt that these books were social commentaries of the days that Twain wrote these books. Have to re-read them sometime again just to re-analyse these books in that light.
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Padmanabha G December 10, 2013 at 6:01 pm

I am yet to read that book. But will surely do after this review.

Roshan R December 10, 2013 at 6:22 pm

This truly is a “Must read” book for all ages, there is no doubt in my mind. Its an absolute classic.
Of the classics, the one which always made me ponder as i grew up was ‘the Count of Monte Christo’.
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Vidya Sury December 11, 2013 at 8:49 am

Roshan, the Count of Monte Christo is one of my all-time favorites. Each time I read it, I enjoy it in a different way. (Yes, I just got back :D). Also, The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy. It is a amazing book. Thank you for sharing my happiness!
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Sheethal December 10, 2013 at 6:24 pm

One of favorite books. Have lost count the times reading this one. Beautiful review 🙂
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Kathy December 10, 2013 at 8:19 pm

A magnificent classic and a must read for everyone! ♥
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richmiraclefiles December 10, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Hi Vidya,
Tom Sawyer is the quintessential creator of advantage from adversity.And in my estimate,he epitomises “making a lemonade when fate hands you a lemon”.That’s the spiritual lesson drawn from the beauty of assimilating Tom Sawyer character fully.The way he craetively inspires others to paint a fencing, and gets to bask in the glory of their adulation is magnificent really.
Thanks Vidya ,for refreshing our memory.
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Michelle Liew December 10, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Tom Sawyers journey illustrates the challenges we all have to deal with in life, though these may seem trite. A wonderful review, Vidya!
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vishalbheeroo December 11, 2013 at 12:48 am

I read the book in school and it forms part of ma childhood memories. It is one of the best books I’ve ever read and wow, you refreshed ma lovely memories:)
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Mysoul December 11, 2013 at 5:09 am

Oh! wonderfully reviewed. It took me back to school days. This was one of the books I enjoyed.
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Pixie December 11, 2013 at 8:48 am

I remember reading about the fence white washing part of Tom Sawyer as an English Lesson in school. I was so intrigued that I made my grandpa buy me the book!!
I had the abridged edition as a kid and then later on bought the unabridged version!!
Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are brilliant books! 🙂
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Vishnu December 11, 2013 at 9:09 am

i’m pretty sure this book is required reading for all school kids in the U.S. Tom Sawyer was a legend but his buddy Huck was an even more interesting and criminally-minded character 🙂 Book particularly stands out for me cause I acted in a play in standard 6 featuring Tom Sawyer!
Vishnu recently posted…A Simple but Powerful Practice to Change your Thoughts and Increase your Self-Worth.

Vidya Sury December 11, 2013 at 9:29 am

Wow! that’s so sweet, Vishnu! And yes, I love Huckleberry Finn equally! What fun it must have been to act Tom Sawyer’s part!

Betsy/Zen Mama December 11, 2013 at 10:21 am

This was required reading for us in school. A little lighter than Huck Finn. I just love everything that Mark Twain wrote. I hope to visit his hometown someday in Missouri! It was really fun to read your review!
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Corinne Rodrigues December 11, 2013 at 11:14 am

I’m so glad we had Tom Sawyer and some other classics as compulsory reading in our school days. Amazing how much all these books gave us insights into the lives of children and adults in other countries. Sometimes, I think that it is the reading of these books that has helped us to bridge cultural gaps in blogging. What do you think? 🙂
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Vidya Sury December 11, 2013 at 11:37 am

Absolutely. Being well-read, that too with the right kind of reading broadens our outlook tremendously! Short of physically traveling everywhere, I think our reading habit is what makes us keenly appreciate everything we experience! It certainly helps us understand and bridge cultural gaps in blogging.

Great insight, Corinne! Thank you. And Thank you, again.
Vidya Sury recently posted…Book Review: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Suzy December 16, 2013 at 1:33 pm

You took me back to my school days. This was my std 7 Literature book. They don’t write books like these anymore. In the age of Literature there were some real classics written. I need to read this book again. Thanks Vidya for bringing back those memories.
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Joseph Ellston April 17, 2018 at 9:57 pm


Harshita February 7, 2019 at 5:34 pm

Being published in 80s ,this book also rule till now……..a gud one.

Rajlakshmi November 9, 2019 at 5:28 pm

Oh it’s been so long since I read this book. It brings back so many memories. I do remember Becky but don’t remember the murder part. Maybe I should try reading it again, once I am done with my TBR list.
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Shilpa Garg November 10, 2019 at 10:11 am

Re-reading classics is so much more fun as adults. I recently re-read The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and loved it. Guess, we are able to find more meaning in these children’s stories when seen from an adult’s eye. I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as a kid, but would love to pick it up again.
Shilpa Garg recently posted…5 Things About Life I Wish I Had Known 20 Years Ago #WordsMatter

Karmen November 11, 2019 at 2:50 am

This review brought me back to my school days when I read this book. I gotta read it again, you totally got me with this review ❤️
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