Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
YA Fiction, Published 1975
Read April 2010
Challenges: Once Upon a Time IV, 2010 YA Reading Challenge, Time Travel Reading Challenge
Shelf Life: 4 yrs, 2 mos – Purchased 2-3-06
What if you could live forever?
Doomed to – or blessed with – eternal life after drinking from a magical spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing than it might seem. -School Library Journal
Winnie Foster has lived within the confines of her home and yard, never going past the fence row alone. She wanders out to the country street watching a toad cross the road. Winnie muses that the toad must be making fun of her for not being able to leave her own yard. She yearns to run away, to be free from the boredom and strictness of her home and family. Then suddenly Winnie’s ordinary life shifts when a stranger happens upon her gate on the little road headed to Treegap.
Having seen the movie a few years ago and just now picking up the book, I always thought Winnie was older. In the book she is only 10 years old. Some have questioned how she could have such a crush on Jesse (17) at such a young age. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for her to have a crush, especially now that she knows his secret. I think the time period must also be kept in mind since girls typically married at younger ages in 1880, perhaps not at ten, much not too much older than that. I think Jesse having been a child for so long thinks it wonderful that now someone who knows his secret could potentially share a life with him once she gets a little older. Another huge difference is the size of the woods. In fact, the Tucks live nearly 20 miles from Treegap and it’s magical inhabitant so when they “kidnap” Winnie, they really do take her from the world she has always known.
The Tucks decide to take Winnie to talk with Pa (Tuck), knowing he will know how best to explain the story of the spring by the tree. She quickly learns about the sacrifices the Tucks have had to make, losing everyone else they love over time, as well as their home and truly missing out on life, despite all the things they have gotten to see and do with their everlasting time on earth. Though it appears to be a blessing and people would kill to know their secret, as Tuck explains, they are no longer apart of life, they are outside of life, ever wanting to belong to it again. This is why Winnie must keep their secret.
Living’s heavy work, but off to one side, the way we are, it’s useless too. It don’t make sense. If I knowed how to climb back on the wheel, I’d do it in a minute. You can’t have living without dying. So you can’t call it living what we got. We just are, we just be, like rocks beside the road. -p. 64
Overall, I absolutely loved Babbitt’s enchanting fairy tale world with Winnie, her toad, the woods, Treegap, and the Tucks. Winnie grows to love the Tucks in the short time she has with them, despite their differences, and has quite the adventure outside the Foster fence. Such a powerful and eloquent story packed in a small book.
She wandered for a long time, looking at everything, proud to forget the tight, pruned world outside, humming a little now, trying to remember the pattern of the melody she had heard the night before. And then, up ahead, in a place where the light seemed brighter and the ground somewhat more open, something moved. -p. 25
The sweet earth opened out its wide four corner to her like the petals of a flower ready to be picked, and it shimmered with light and possibility till she was dizzy with it. -p. 45