Review: Tuck Everlasting
Tuck Everlasting is a curious tale about a disaffected ten-year-old who although supremely obedient, rebels inwardly against her family's strict disciplinary ways. Winnie Foster lives in a cottage on the fringe of a mysterious wood. She is forbidden to enter it although it has belonged in her family for years. In defiance, Winnie spends more of her days than she ought to sitting by the locked gate communing with a very non-communicative toad until one day she decides to run away.
The woods seem the obvious choice to begin a new life free of restrictions but Winnie's conviction cracks as she considers all the dangers she's ever been warned about and how they might befall her. Disgusted with by her cowardice, Winnie makes a pact with herself to visit the wood for the day and if she should decide to stay forever, then she needn't ever return.
The wood is cool and indifferent, not at all sinister and bleak as she'd imagined but when Winnie stumbles upon a clearing and meets a mother and her two grown sons, her world is instantly turned on its head. For one, she is taken by them. But the acquisition of Winnie by the Tuck family is not the crime it seems, rather it's Winnie's salvation.
This classic parable asks the timeless question: who wants to live forever? Is immortality the penultimate state of existence or a curse to be avoided at all costs? For the Tucks who happen to be older than the woods themselves, the answer is obvious and they do their utmost to convince young Winnie that love and happiness may still be richly experienced even for a finite amount of time.
The Tucks are the family Winnie has always dreamed about. They are warm and untidy, industrious and kind, resourceful and enduring. She experiences a profound contentment when with them and wishes she could stay. But even with the promise of the fountain of youth, some things simply cannot stay forever.
Nearly every child on the planet has entertained notions of running away for one reason or another. How they enact these thoughts helps define their emotional plasticity. For Winnie the outcome of her desires exposed her to a whole new way of viewing the world and those in it. In a short space of time she learnt to think beyond her own shortfalls and understand what compassion, loyalty and true courage really looked like. Not only that, she harnessed these new traits with absolute positive action.
Tuck Everlasting will satisfy fantasy lovers aged 7 and above with its magical undercurrents, occasional high drama and poignant conclusion in a way that may just last longer than the Tucks themselves. An endearing classic.
Author: Natalie Babbitt
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, $14.99
Publication Date: 2 July 2020 (first published in 1975)
For ages: 7+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction Junior Fiction for older readers