Mark Twain's (1876) is a book for readers of all ages.
Most readers pick it up young and enjoy it, but too few come back to it later on, when its dark shadings and affectionate satire of small-town life might hit closer to home.
was for kids or grown-ups, and his book is the better for it.
If Tom stepped out of his 19th-century Missouri small town and into a contemporary American classroom, a guidance counselor would probably tag him as an at-risk latchkey kid.
Violent and cruel, he earns a little of the reader's sympathy only at the very end.
"He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it—namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain." —Mark Twain, from is its deep, dark, wet, rushing underside.
All the grown-ups in the book fret about Tom, fussing at him about his clothes and his manners, but also about his future, and whether this orphaned boy can ever grow up right.
Meanwhile, Tom just wants to cut school, flirt with the new girl, get rich, and read what he pleases.
"She would be sorry some day," Tom says of Becky, "maybe when it was too late. " Typically, Tom lucks into his version of this fantasy.
Huck, on the other hand, deliberately fakes his own death to escape his father. In —yet look closer and see if it isn't a flaw common to every imperfect life. He published his best book at 50 but lived to nearly 75.