The Compulsive Reader: What If You Could Live Forever? Celebrating 40 Years of Tuck Everlasting

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What If You Could Live Forever? Celebrating 40 Years of Tuck Everlasting

This year marks 40 years of the amazing little book Tuck Everlasting. When I first heard that it was the 40th anniversary, I was a little shocked. The book always seemed so timeless to me. I read it as a kid, but I hadn't understood how long it had been around, and how it affected so many people.

I recently re-read the book, and it was so interesting to see how my memories of the book stacked up next to the re-read. I would say that Tuck Everlasting is one of the more memorable books from my childhood. I remembered Winnie, Jesse, Mae, the everlasting Tucks, the overbearing Foster family. I remembered a mysterious, shadowy stranger who threatened everything. The plot was ingrained in my mind. I chalked the strength of my memory up to a strong, distinctive story.

But I was unprepared for how distinctly I remembered Babbitt's use of language. The revelation of Mae not needing a mirror because she'd looked the same for 87 years. The wheel. The water. The stillness of the first week of August. All of those images were imprinted on my brain as clearly as the question Babbitt posed to her readers: What if you could live forever?

Regardless of what you believe about this world or the next, I think what makes Tuck Everlasting so powerful is that it emphasizes not the incredible idea of forever or time or what it means to be special, like the Tucks are, but what it is to live. Winnie lives. She takes action. And she can easily live with the consequences because she knows that she has done something, something right. I don't want to live forever, but if I were to live forever, I'd want to be like Winnie. I'd want to make choices and do good. It's like what Miles tells her: "People got to do something useful if they're going to take up space in the world."

If you haven't read Tuck Everlasting yet, I urge you to pick up a copy as soon as you possibly can. Even better--pick up the 40th Anniversary Edition, with a lovely introduction by Gregory Maguire. You won't regret it, I promise.


LinWash said...

I have much love for Tuck Everlasting. Much. Love. I hadn't realized the fortieth anniversary was upon us. Very cool.

Liviania said...

I love the opening paragraph to this novel. It doesn't get mentioned as frequently as stuff like The Great Gatsby or P&P, but it sticks in my mind just as much.