Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

Published: November 1st 1985
Goodreads badgePublisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 144
Format: Book
Genre: Historical/Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

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 that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.

Tuck Everlasting is a novel by Natalie Babbit and is set in the summer of 1880. This is a great story about a young girl Winnie who lives opposite the woods, dreams of adventure and stumbles upon a great secret. Being only ten years old she greets things and thinks things through as a child and is quick to access and accept those around her. I love it when authors write children protagonists, and all characters really, to match their ages. There is something great about reading a book and while it may seem illogical and a bit strange as we read, you know it is because it is through the eyes of a child and that is how they think and react. What makes Winnie great also is the era in which she lives. She has the child’s mind but she had the 19th century society influence as well.

While Winnie is trying to have an adventure she meets the Tuck family. This is where the curiosity begins because we are given two conflicting sides. This is soon replaced with a new curiosity as we get to know the Tucks better. Once Winnie is introduced to Mae, Angus, Miles and Jesse, it is from that moment she has her own little adventure all to herself.

The Tuck’s are a very decent family, you can tell the era which they come from in their speech and lifestyle, nothing special in particular about them on the outside. Jess and Miles are young men who like to travel and be adventurous while Mae and Angus are happy just being together. When Winnie stumbles upon the Tucks they are so bewildered and yet glad to have found her and they treat her as one of their own almost instantly, Jesse especially. I did find it a little odd that this seventeen year old boy was so attached and fond of a ten year old. I understand how she was smitten, him being bronzed, curly haired and being “even more beautiful up close” but he practically proposes to her. But aside from that it was a good story, it didn’t go where you thought it would which was a good thing I think. There was surprises and twists and in such a short book that was quite well done.

This was made into a ok movie starring Alexis Bledel of Gilmore Girls fame, but having read the book I think there is slightly more to enjoy in the book. In my mind, and a lot of the time I think I am right, the book trumps the movie. Sometimes they are both as bad as each other, but a lot of the time books come out on top. One of my favourite moments is when you discover a movie you liked was originally a book. Either I will track down the book to see the changes, or hope that it was better, or sometimes, like Hugo, you want to find out if it just as spectacular. I have to say Babbit’s book definitely trumps the movie in this case, but only just. With credit to the film a lot was similar.

Babbit’s idea is not new by any means but they people she placed around this idea were, and they were real and honest people who did not choose this life and were doing their best to protect people from it. It is an honourable and heartfelt book that makes you think, but even without reading anything into it, this story is simply about a little girl who has this wonder in her life and where that wonder takes her. It is as simple as that.

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