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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt (Book & Movie Review)

I confess. I watched the movie before I read the book. (Carrie hangs head in a moderate attempt at repentance and sorrow. How's it workin' for her?)

I watched the movie one night during my final-days-of-pregnancy-insomnia because I could instantly view it on Netflix and I was curious about it. I'm happy to say that this is one of those times when the movie was so very enjoyable to me, that I then I had to read the book. Enter: Amazon.

I ordered a copy of Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbit assuming I'd like it. I was right - I did. It was a fabulous story! It's a quick read but one that definitely sticks with you. If you are unfamiliar with the story, the basic gist is as follows:

Young Winnie Foster (age 10? 11?) lives a very safe life behind her wealthy family's iron gate. She is an only child who has experienced little-to-no adventures in her young life. Her mother and grandmother are over protective and, frankly, overbearing. It's probably important to note that the parents could be read off as being controlling and obnoxious. That said, I think it's pretty clear that they love their daughter very much and only want the best for her, however misguided they might be in their attempts to secure the best on her behalf. Still, I can imagine that a lot of angst filled pre-teens might feel that they can identify with Winnie Foster because of her lack of freedom and it's something that you might care to discuss with your young reader.)

On one particular day Winnie decides that she is going to run away from home, which pretty much consists of her exiting the fence which surrounds her family's property. She goes off to explore the woods which the family owns and which are situated right next to her home. Once in the woods, Winnie comes upon a spring which holds water that, if drunk, will cause the person or animal to live forever, unchanged. She meets the Tuck family who had previously drunk from the spring, unaware of the spring's hidden powers. The Tucks desire to protect the spring from unsuspecting drinkers and so kidnap Winnie simply to have the time to convince her of the importance of keeping the spring a secret.

The book is a big question: Is it a good thing to live forever and never die? Or is it preferable to live life as fully and completely as possible, experiencing the variety of life's seasons which, of course, concludes with death. Should we be afraid to die? Should we want to freeze time in any particular moment and exist there forever?

It's a curious question and definitely piques the interest of humanity at large. Death is a feared fiend to most people and it can, depending on what you believe, signal an end. It can be viewed as terrifying - as the unknown often times is. For the Christian, of course, we believe that death is not the end and that Christ has conquered this foe. (1 Corinthians 15:55) We have no need to fear it, although we still clutch on to our humanity. That's as it should be. Christ gave us life and made us relational. It's hard to think of letting go and saying goodbye to the people we love in particular. Death's timing is not always enjoyed. Yet it is a sure enough thing -it will come to each of us.

I think that this book, as dark and morbid as the subject matter may sound, is a fascinating and interesting story, asking questions worth discussing with young readers. I think this book is appropriately marked as a middle grade read and would heartily recommend it.

As for the movie, I thought it was excellent and very well done. It stays true to the book for the most part except in one particular: the age of Winnie Foster. In Tuck Everlasting the movie she is much older, allowing her to enter into a believable romantic relationship with the younger Tuck boy. There is a kiss, but otherwise, it's really tame. The questions about life and death that the book asks are asked in the movie as well. Actually, I thought that the movie did a better job at more clearly pointing out the benefits and beauty of being able to live each season of life instead of being locked into one particular age or condition in time. The conversation that Winnie has with father Tuck on the river about drinking from the spring makes it very clear that the life that Winnie has is to be embraced and enjoyed, rather than traded in even for what she might currently believe is "true love." The book definitely suggests this truth to be the case. The movie makes it clear. So I appreciated both the book and the movie but for slightly different reasons.

Either one I would recommend and I'm glad to own the book. At some point in time I wouldn't mind adding the movie to our home library to be enjoyed with my kids further on down the road. In the meantime, I'm still thinking about it and mulling it over. That, I think, is a sign of a pretty good story and this one is likely to end up as one of my favorite reads of 2011. Not sure how I missed this one up 'till now, but glad I've experienced it at last!

16 comments:

Annette W. said...

I wasn't sure what this was about, but you've made me want to watch/read it!

Ticia said...

I read this as a required reading in 6th grade, and it stuck with me since then. That and "Bridge to Terebithia"

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I've seen this one as an assigned read as early as 3rd grade, and I thought it was pretty weighty matter for students so young. I'll confess I thought the book and movie were both sort of weird, but I did enjoy them.

welcome to our wonderland said...

I remember tuck everlasting from my middle school lit class love it and the movie wasn't that bad.

Barbara H. said...

I saw part of the movie at some point, but didn't get as much out of it without the perspective of the whole story. Sounds interesting~

Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian said...

I loved both book and movie too. My absolute favorite line in the movie is (vague spoiler) when Winnie has just sent the jailer scurrying out the door, and chirps "help!" one last time. The pleased look on her face at accomplishing something daring and impossible that she never would have dreamed of attempting a week ago tells me she is going to have a right fine life:)

Stephanie said...

I wondered about the movie but avoided it because I remember it being very popular a few years ago. I generally don't enjoy movies that are popular and raved about. Maybe I'll watch this some rainy afternoon during nap time.

*carrie* said...

Thanks for your reviews, Carrie. I read the book long ago, but this makes me want to see the movie.

(Thank you for your sweet note, which arrived yesterday, as well.)

Melissa Mc (Gerbera Daisy Diaries) said...

This book gave me the creeps...we read it for our Mother/Daughter book club...was glad that my daughter was a slacker that month and didn't read it.

Krista said...

I can't remember when I saw this movie, I think it was relatively new, but it's stuck with me. I knew they had changed the age of the girl from the original book, but I think it works. It really gives her a reason to want to drink from the spring. I love the ending of the movie! ;)

Cindy said...

I have this on my TBR list to read for The Decades Challenge this year. I'm also attracted to it because my son's name is Tucker !(even though he doesn't like to be called 'Tuck")

Hannah said...

This is one of my all-time favorite books! I haven't seen the movie because I'm usually disappointed by the movie versions. Glad to hear the movie followed the book's story line.

Beth said...

Thanks for your review. I was just holding the audio book in my hand yesterday and wondering if it was okay for my daughter to listen to. I put it back, but after reading your review I put it on hold.

Shonya said...

Ok, you've convinced me! Sounds like a fun read for my daughter and me this summer! :)

bekahcubed said...

I remember leafing through it sometime in the past and then putting it back on the library shelf. Apparently, it wasn't sufficient to pique my interest. Your review, on the other hand, is sufficient! I think I'll have to give this one another go.

hopeinbrazil said...

This is one of my very favorite books. Nothing else I've read by Babbit has even come close. But I was disappointed that the Disney movie turned it into a romance...

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