Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Book Review: Tuck Everlasting

I found the movie on YouTube around 2 years ago and I loved it. Found out it was a book, so I had to read it [and was lucky enough to enjoy it with my dear friend Ashley]. Even though the movie is very different from the book, I still greatly adore both. This is a beloved children's classic and I have always wanted to read it right as it was happening in the book. A book with wonder and a powerful lesson. The power of summer at its best. The perfect getaway for when we don't feel like staying at home, but can't seem to get out of the house.

What I'm Listening To:

  • Main Title (Tuck Everlasting) by William Ross
  • Love Everlasting by William Ross
  • When You Were Young by The Killers


I have to share my favorite section of the book (ruins nothing, since its part of the prologue) :

            "The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain."



Tuck Everlasting
By Natalie Babbitt
Rating: 5/5

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Blurb:
Tuck Everlasting---taken from back of the book

"Doomed to---or blessed with---eternal life after drinking from a magic 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. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune."

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This book is in my top 10, for sure. I am even going to go so far to say that when I have a kid, they're going to read this book at least once. Heck, it may even become a bedtime story. That's how highly I consider it. I love all three covers, but my absolute favorite is the one that uses the picture from the movie (below left) (since I'm fond of both equally). The yellow one (above) has a peaceful antique feel and was the cover on the copy I checked out from the library the first time I read it. The third cover, with the girl in the frock (further below) is the most common one that my friends own and that most people purchase. 

Tuck EverlastingGood story, good characters, good setting, and above all GREAT WRITING. I love the style. Babbitt wrote Tuck Everlasting in a way that makes it feel not as if you're reading a book, but as if you're being told the story and through the telling, living it. 

You breathe the scent of the forest and feel the coolness of the water. The crispness of the air and the burning heat come off of the page. The quiet, rickety creaking sounds associated with forests whispers in your ear. This is exactly why I call it a getaway when you're unavoidably stuck in the house. When reading, you're no longer in your favorite chair or lying on your bed or even just splayed out on the couch. You're in a forest in an older time, a simpler time, facing every challenge that comes with the story. You don't read about the Tuck family. You meet them face-to-face and share their simplicity and pain. You don't just watch Winnie Foster's reactions, you perform them with her. You feel her thoughts as your own and long for something more. A little more adventure, a little more room to just....play. You feel like a young kid again, not knowing what you're going to find in this big old world. All you want to do is live, and breath, and play. In this book, all of that is achieved, and we are left with so much more. 

Tuck EverlastingTuck Everlasting revolves around the idea of immortality, but while that is the hub of the story, it is not necessarily what MAKES the story. What makes Tuck Everlasting, is the characters and their reaction to immortality. Each character has their own perspectives and each has to make their own decisions. Winnie is just a child, but in the course of the first week of August, she grows up a lot more than most of us would think possible. While a lot of books these days make a big deal out of the greatness of immortality, Tuck Everlasting shows what immortality really is and the effects that it has on a simple family and the two people who wander into their lives. 

A little quirk that I found enjoyable was the fact that the antagonist has no name (as far as we know). He is just "the man in the yellow suit," which I think tells a lot about his character. He is not particularly villainous, therefore his name doesn't conjure feelings of evil in every sentence where he is mentioned. He is just affected by the Tucks and the spring in a different way than Winnie. He was shaped differently by the thought of immortality, but that does not make him the core of the novel. He just presents a common perspective towards immortality. 

Besides being beautifully written, Tuck Everlasting leaves the reader with something new to ponder after each completion. At first, you may leave with Tuck's great words: "Don't be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live." The next time, you may leave with a new perspective on how to live, or maybe just how to appreciate those you encounter throughout your life. You may think and consider how every person you have met has in some way, shaped your life, no matter how small their influence may have been. After reading this book over about 4 times at least, I've begun to be more observant. Every time I go outside, I notice a few of the minor details that we typically pass over from day to day. The colors of the leaves at different times of the year, or the shapes of shadows on the ground. Even the cracks in the sidewalk or the light bouncing off of water at night call to me now. There's always something new to see when you go out and something to be learned every time this book is re-read. 

I recommend this to everyone, because sometimes, we need to forget the stress we place on ourselves and just live,...breathe,...play. We need to awaken the inner child that has been sleeping for far too long. The next time the first week of August rolls around, take a chance and see what living is about. 

Until the next time we meet, 
Keep your eyes open to life's many wonders!
                           Sam

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