The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Huck Finn is the latest WEM book (you can follow along at Classic Case of Madness*). I think I read it in 8th grade and didn't get the dialect or the jokes, so it was pretty much like reading it for the first time. I enjoyed it so much! A lot of it is just really fun.
The story is that Huck's dad, the town drunk, shows up again and makes Huck's life a misery, so Huck takes off on the river. He meets up with Jim, a slave and a friend of his who is now a runaway. Together they travel down the Mississippi River on a raft, having adventures and getting into scrapes and generally tearing up the the countryside. Much of it is very funny, and some of it is tragic.
Alongside and underneath the fun is Huck's gradual realization that Jim--who Huck has always been strictly taught is beneath him in every way--is a real person. It takes him the whole book, and you can see it happening. By the end, they are true friends. This stands in contrast to Tom Sawyer, who is more educated and full of ideas, but he's also got a lot of pride (in the Biblical sense) and uses Huck and Jim more as playthings then as real people.
I had no idea when I started how much I would like this story. Even though I read all the other Tom Sawyer books last year, Huck Finn has always stood a little apart in my mind as a more serious and difficult book, not to mention the language (which of course I still don't like). After the careful structuring and super-civilized atmosphere of the last WEM book, Portrait of a Lady, it was a breath of fresh air. I ripped through it in a couple of days, and I read some bits out loud to my daughter when they were too funny not to share.
If you've never read the story of Huck's adventures on the Mississippi, make sure to do it soon.
*CCOM reveals that huckleberries are blueberries, which I did not know! I had a vague idea they were like wild blackberries or something. Christine tells us that "the word indicated something small and of little consequence," which is sad. It does make a really good name though. And I always like it when Tom calls him Hucky.