On the cover:
Wild child Huck has to get away. His violent drunk of a father is back in town again, raising Cain. He won’t rest until he has Huck’s money. So the enterprising boy fakes his own death and sets out in search of adventure and freedom.
Teaming up with Jim, an escaped slave with a price on his head, the two fugitives go on the run, travelling down the wide Mississippi River. But Huck finds himself wrestling with his conscience. Should he save Jim, or turn his friend over to a terrible fate?
What I thought:
Somehow this book passed me by when I was growing up. It wasn’t assigned reading at school and so I didn’t get around to reading it as I didn’t really get into the classics until a few years ago. Anyway, I finally got around to reading it after hearing people talking about it during Banned Books week and on various podcasts.
It took me a while to get into the story, but once I did, the story flowed really well and I became absorbed in the adventures of Huck and Jim. Initially I found the language and dialect quite difficult to get my head around, possibly this is due to the fact that I’m British? I don’t know. This soon became a non-issue though and in fact it’s one of the things that made me really enjoy the book. The fact that the whole thing is written in Huck’s dialect gave the book that extra layer of authenticity, but I will admit to having to read Jim’s parts out loud in some semblance of an African-American accent in order to actually understand it because it wasn’t making sense straight off the page!
I can understand why this book was so important in trying to break down the stereotypes of black people in America, however I don’t agree with all of the controversy over the use of the ‘N’ word. I’m not condoning the use of the word in any way but it just didn’t have the same connotations back then as it does now. These things have to be looked at in context. Anyway, that’s an argument for another day. I really came to care about Jim and it was fascinating to see his journey throughout the book. Yes the book is about a journey and an adventure but it’s also about the journey that Jim makes from being a ‘dumb’ slave to being a rounded person with an interesting, intelligent and caring personality. This is so different to the stereotypes that painted black people of the time as vengeful, hateful and stupid.
I also loved Huck and the fact that, whilst he wanted to be a rebel and be a typical boy, he had morals and he made decisions that weren’t easy and that would have gotten him into a lot of trouble, in the name of friendship.
I can see now why this is a classic and I wish that I had read it sooner. I definitely think that all children should read this.
Source: Library book
Publisher: Penguin (Red classics), 2006
My rating: 4 stars