genre: middle grade fiction
This was my debut experience with Ol' Tom. Everything I'd ever heard about him (that whole "whitewashing the fence" scene) happened in about the first fifteen minutes. Wow are his adventures way more exciting than convincing some kids to do his chores for him! Tom Sawyer is being raised by his morally straight and lovingly strict Aunt Polly. All she wants is for him to be a respectable child but Tom has too much ruckus in him - too much curiosity and energy and imagination. And his reckless nature gets him into some serious scrapes with consequences that reach far beyond his small circle of friends. Speaking of friends, his most valiant partner in crime? Huckleberry Finn. Between the two of them, all kinds of unfortunate choices are made and their adventures are a glorious look at what a childhood might have once been, if one had no respect for rules or common sense :)
I found myself surprisingly taken in by Tom. He's such a creator of storylines - of play plots that involve all kinds of robbers and pirates and Robin Hoods and bandits. I loved his hyperbole and his sense of the dramatic - all oaths had to be taken at midnight with one hand touching a coffin and the other hand touching a dead cat, or something like that. He clearly was in it for the SHOW of the thing, the adventure. Yes, as the mother of a nearly 12-year-old boy myself, I sometimes wanted to wring his neck. His complete lack of supervision was astonishing - he could've gotten himself killed about seven different times. And yet, there was something almost magical about how he always managed to work it out. What amazing things can our children do when they are left to their own devises and forced to work out their own problems? Even when he was being an idiot, he did have, deep down, a sense of what was right and that he did want to do right when it mattered most.
I will say it: I liked it, more than I thought I would. I liked listening to it because the dialect certainly fleshed him out as a person, as well as the other main characters. Glad I listened.