This year marks the 40th anniversary of Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting. To celebrate the anniversary, Macmillan is publishing a special anniversary edition featuring an introduction from author Gregory Maguire. I'm so excited to be a part of the #Tuck40th blog tour for this beloved book! If you've never read this (WHAT?!) or need to refresh your memory, here's what it's about:
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Blessed with—or doomed to—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 of a blessing than it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune. A brand-new introduction from Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked, and additional bonus materials make this special edition of Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting a must-have for lovers of the book and a great way to introduce a new generation to a classic.
I actually just recently re-read the book and re-watched the movie - unaware that 2015 was the 40th anniversary of this timeless story. My favorite thing about re-reading, especially something that I read as a child, is seeing how my impressions and insights have changed over time. Nowhere was this more evident than in my re-read of Tuck Everlasting and in the answer to this question proposed to all participants in the blog tour:
The Tuck family drinks from a magic spring and discovers that they'll never die. The father, mother and two sons must now deal with this blessing and its inherent curse. The youngest son, Jesse, sees it all as an adventure. And when little Winnie Foster discovers the family secret, Jesse is quick to invite her to join them in this eternal life. But there's another brother, Miles, who wouldn't wish this life on anyone. The brothers stand in stark contrast to one another and present two very different reactions to a divisive question: What if you could live forever?
I know exactly how I would have answered this question if I'd been asked when I was a child. I can't remember if I first read Tuck Everlasting for school or pleasure, but I know that even then this question captured my imagination. It's a tempting offer, and all I saw in it was the romance of the thought. Who wouldn't want to have all the time in the world - to never have to worry about whether or not you'll achieve your dreams and desires? I still vividly remember being enchanted by the possibilities open to someone who would live forever! And I was a history nerd even then, so I was equally fascinated by the idea that you could live long enough to know you'd experienced "the past" firsthand.
While I've never been an emotional reader, I was gutted by the ending growing up. I don't know if you need to offer a spoiler warning for a book that's forty years old, but I'm about to share why I felt betrayed by the ending... As a kid, I couldn't believe that Winnie didn't drink from the spring and join the Tucks. Caught up in daydreams about what I'd do with my forever, I failed to see the pain attached to the promise.
But in re-reading, it was right there in front of me. I kept wondering - how did I miss it? Why didn't I see the heartache of loving someone who would grow old without you? Why didn't I feel the loneliness resonating in almost every conversation Winnie has with the Tucks? Or did I just choose to ignore it? Approaching Tuck Everlasting as an adult, I realized I was no longer captivated by the optimistic and eternity-loving Jesse. Instead, I found myself moved by the grief of Miles and the longing of Angus, the father.
"I want to grow again," he said fiercely, "and change. And if that means I got to move on at the end of it, then I want that, too. Listen, Winnie, it's something you don't find out how you feel until afterwards."
It may have sounded like an adventure once, but now I can't imagine living forever. The thought of never aging, never experiencing growth or change, never being able to form lasting relationships, of being stuck in the endlessness of it all... No, thank you! I'll take this brief and messy life any day.
Knowing that life is short is what makes your days more meaningful. The words you say, the things you do, the people you love - they're made all the more precious by the fact that you must live with purpose. You don't have forever, so you must use the time you have wisely. If you had knew you'd never run out of money, you wouldn't think twice about how you spent it. It would, in a way, lose its value. Having a limited supply makes you more conscious of it - fully aware of the times of plenty and of lack. It's the fact that life has an end, a limit, that makes you care about the way you live. And I wouldn't trade that for anything.
You can appreciate the seasons of joy for having lived through ones of pain. You love more fiercely because you know you don't have forever with the people around you. You understand your own smallness in the grand scheme of things. You were born and will die, but this is what makes you human, what connects you to every living soul on the planet, and what directs your steps for all of your days. I love the idea of living forever, but not the reality of it. So instead of dreaming about my forever, I'll focus on my here and now. To live every day with intention is the greatest challenge and opportunity of all!
I could muse on this question for much longer, but let's end with something happy: I'm giving away a paperback of Tuck Everlasting! If you've been wanting to read (or re-read!) this book, now's your chance.
Win a copy of Tuck Everlasting!
Open to US only. | All entrants must be 13 or older to enter.