Book Group, Books

Book 282: Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt

Babbitt, Natalie - Tuck EverlastingI first read Tuck Everlasting back in high school before the 2002 film came out as I didn’t want the story ruined by a movie (I was just as stubborn back then). Other than a general sense of wonderment and enjoyment I didn’t remember much about the book outside of the basic storyline. I was very glad this was the chosen book this month as it was super short, read it in one day on my T commute, and watched the 2002 film just before book group.

It’s hard to say what part of the story was the best part as there was something so incredibly simple and yet fantastical/magical in both the story and Babbitt’s writing. I definitely didn’t realize when I first read it that the book was almost 30 years old! Originally published in 1975, it clearly stands the test of time and I thoroughly enjoyed this reread. Babbitt did an amazing job of simplifying and writing about a concept as complex and all-encompassing as immortality

“Your time’s not now. 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. But it’s passing us by, us Tucks. Living’s heavy work, but off to one side, the way we are, it’s useless too. 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.” (63-4)

I have no doubt that a young adult or even a smaller child would be able to understand this concept and I was very glad to hear at least part of this direct quote appear again in the 2002 film. I also found out when checking the publication date that there was an earlier film adaptation in 1981! This is also one of those books that I can imagine a child growing old with and finding different parts to understand and love throughout the years. I definitely wish I had written a journal or something about what I thought over a decade ago.

If there is only one complaint I have about the book it’s that it is a children’s novel and is therefore incredibly short and I wanted so much more from it and for the story to continue! There are a couple of twists that I won’t talk about, but the last few chapters of the book are incredibly moving in both Winnie’s maturation and the Tuck’s story! I was sad the movie changed the simplicity and elegance of the book’s ending, but the epilogue of the book and the beginning of the movie still had me a little teary eyed.

Recommendation: EVERYONE should read this, it’s one of those non-religious moral stories which teaches about love and life’s lessons. This will definitely be one of those books that will appear on my children’s bookshelves one day!

Opening Line: “The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning.”

Closing Line: “And soon they were rolling on again, leaving Treegap behind, and as they went, the tinkling little melody of a music box drifted out behind them and was lost at last far down the road.” (Whited out.)

Additional Quotes from Tuck Everlasting
“Nothing ever seems interesting when it belongs to you—only when it doesn’t.” (7)

“His tall body moved continuously: a foot tapped, a shoulder twitched. And it moved in angels, rather jerkily. But at the same time he had a kind of grace, like a well handled marionette. Indeed, he seemed almost to hang suspended there in the twilight.” (18)

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8 thoughts on “Book 282: Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt”

  1. I agree- this is a wonderful book. And I love that first quote you picked out. I liked the movie, too, in and of itself, but they did change it. This book sits on my daughter’s bookshelf.

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  2. This is one of those books that I often saw on the library shelves as a kid, but somehow it never looked appealing to me. Looking at it now, I can’t see why. Seems I missed out!

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    1. I could see that the cover wasn’t very exciting! And I didn’t read it until I was a junior in high school the first time. Ou should definitely read it, it’s so short and a delightful read.

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    1. Thanks for the comment! And that’s a cool connection you should definitely check it out. Someone in my book group said she was a rather prolific author and illustrator and I assumed this was her only book.

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