Book Review: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, published in 1975.
Quite honestly, I prefer reading children’s books to modern fiction. They never drag on and on with excessive description. They get right to the point. The authors know they have to catch you right off.
In Tuck Everlasting, 10 year old Winnie discovers a secret well that gives everlasting life to anyone who drinks from it. She meets the Tuck family who drank from the well, who are frozen in time at their respective ages, and is tempted, very tempted to join them .
For some, it would be a delight to have all the time in the world to pursue the things that were interesting to you. But would it really be a wonderful thing never to grow older? To remain forever a child and never know the privileges of being an adult, or to have to move often and have to break friendships so that no one would know your secret?
This short novel sparkles with lyrical writing. It poses deep philosophical questions for middle -school readers and is exquisitely rich with metaphor and simile. Some examples:
“Mae sat there frowning, a great potato of a woman with a round, sensible face and calm brown eyes.”
“It was the only living thing in sight except for a stationary cloud of hysterical gnats suspended in the heat above the road.”
(a road) “It widened and seemed to pause, suggesting tranquil bovine picnics: slow chewing and thoughtful contemplation of the infinite.”
“But at the same time he had a kind of grace, like a well-handled marionette.”
“… three armchairs and an elderly rocker stood about aimlessly, like strangers at a party, ignoring each other.”
“The sun was dropping fast now, a soft red sliding egg yolk, and already to the east there was a darkening to purple.”
“She began to relax, listening to the sound-filled silence.”
As many have said, I wish I had read this when I was young. Apparently it is frequently assigned to fifth graders. Deservedly so, it has become a classic. Highly recommended. I have not read anything else by this writer but would like to someday.
Nicely reviewed. Thank you, Cynthia. As described, it seems an agonizing decision (for me, at any rate) is presented in nearly transcendent prose. My only concern would be that the author’s lyricism may go unappreciated by younger readers.