Friday Favorites: Tuck Everlasting

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The first time I read Tuck Everlasting I was only 11-years old, almost exactly the same age as the novel's main character, Winnie. From the very first pages of the slim volume I was hooked. At its core it's a young adult book that questions the value of mortality versus immortality.

Winnie leads a shelters life before meeting the Tuck family. The Tucks, made up of a mother, father and two sons, became immortal after unknowingly drinking from a spring of life. Winnie becomes completely enamored with them and their lives.

The characters are so well-drawn. There's the sinister, never-named, "man in a yellow suit," heartbroken Miles, loving Mae, energetic Jesse and of course Pa Tuck, who Winnie loves best of all. Winnie herself is everything a young girl should be, curious with a drop of both fear and courage.

The novel is beautifully crafted. I've re-read it a dozen times since that first introduction and every time different things stand out to me. When I first read it I was swept away by the concept of immortality and the romantic life that was offered to Winnie. More recently it's the wisdom of PaTuck that has resonated with me...

"But dying's part of the wheel, right there next to being born. You can't pick out the pieces you like and leave the rest. Being part of the whole thing, that's the blessing."

When you think about all you would have to give up to embrace immortality it's daunting to say the least. Friends, family, the world you know, all of these things would fade in time. Babbitt manages to capture the essences of this dilemma in a way that even a preteen can grasp.

I think the very best books grow along with us. They offer new ideas as we age. We gain so much from them as young adults, but once we've grown up we can re-read them and discover a whole new world.

"Life's got to be lived, no matter how long or short."


Jeanne said...

I read this book when my kids discovered it, and loved it. We went to the movie and agreed that the book is much, much better. (Big surprise)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I agree. As is usually true, the book was better.