Tom Sawyer Abroad by Mark Twain
Digital Audiobook narrated by Matt Armstrong
Published by Aegypan on September 1, 2006
Genres: Adventure, Children's, Classics, Historical, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 86 pages or 2 hours, 52 minutes
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This delightful and (in its way) almost obscure Tom Sawyer story picks up in the aftermath of Tom and Huck's triumphal return from the pages of Huckleberry Finn: Tom, always looking for trouble, finds it when he sets out to become Hannibal's First Traveler. Tom, Huck, and Jim find themselves kidnapped by a mad inventor, sailing cross the Atlantic and into Arabian adventure -- and that's only the beginning!
Did you guys know that there are four books in the Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn saga? Well, five, if you count the unfinished story….
I think that most people have read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn here in the States, because it’s a pretty common required reading in high school English. Pop culture (and Disney World) itself made me well aware of Tom Sawyer and his fence-painting, treasure-seeking shenanigans. But I wasn’t aware of Tom Sawyer Abroad or the fourth book, Tom Sawyer, Detective, until earlier this year, and as a general fan of Mark Twain, I was in.
Tom Sawyer Abroad brings the trio back together again after The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Driven with interest to see a marvellous travelling balloon, the three find themselves essentially kidnapped as they’re the last ones off the craft, and whisked away into the skies. The balloon is easy enough to handle for the ever-adventurous Tom and after a few mishaps, they sit back and enjoy the skies.
Atmospherically, I really liked this book and I think it stands up well against the travelling sense of Huckleberry Finn, and the general feel of a lazy adventure. Tom, Huck, and Jim end up flying over the Sahara Desert and learning to enjoy it. There’s a lot of philosophical conversation/argument between Tom and Jim. Now, in the hands of many authors it would be easy for this to become supremely racist and given the time when this book was written, my shields were up. However, as usually… Mark Twain was pretty tasteful, especially for the climate of his era. And I mean this both toward Jim as well as to the Muslims they see in caravans from above.
The conversation does turn a bit theological, keeping in line with the character Twain created in Jim. What I did appreciate is that if one was keeping score, the disagreements between the characters left them all pretty even. There was no “Tom is smarter” even though Tom obviously thinks he’s smarter… but come now… that’s just Tom Sawyer. He thinks he’s smarter than everyone. The theological conversation is not preachy in the least – Twain’s skepticism on the topic is pretty well known – but it’s something to be aware of and having a bit of a religious background and knowing what Jim was talking about certainly helped when it came to their flight over Egypt.
Fortunately, what I like about Twain is his writing style and thought provoking conversations. If you’re looking for a strong action plot, you’re not going to find it here. Honestly, I never felt there was a strong action plot in Huckleberry Finn, so the way that Tom Sawyer Abroad rambled came as no surprise to me? The directionlessness can be frustrating for those looking for most of a story and less of a diversion, so that’s something worth mentioning.
Honestly, I thought this was pretty enjoyable. It was a good distration, and the audiobook narrator was honestly fantastic! This isn’t one of Twain’s strongest pieces, but it’s not a waste of time either and if you enjoy the trio, Tom Sawyer Abroad is worth either a read or a listen.
Who do you like better – Tom or Huck? I appreciate bits in both of them, but I think they are best as a pair. Tom’s devilish, but Huck is sweet. Tell me which of the boys is your favorite in the comments!