Monday, January 12, 2015


Happy New Year everyone! It's me, Leslie, finally back on the blog here, however brief it may be before I must go back to my studies in college. I hope all of you are happy and well this first month of 2015 and are enjoying your winter; I'm surely happy to be back home with my family and friends, and am feeling satisfied with spending my long, lazy afternoons reading, sleeping, and reading some more.

With this new year of 2015, the publishers at Macmillan are launching an awesome event to celebrate--wait for it--the 40th anniversary of Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt! My sister and I loved Tuck Everlasting when we first read it all those years ago--she was in the fifth grade when she first read it, and later on, when I was in the fourth grade, I read it as well upon her recommendation--and we are both excited and honored to be part of its celebration.

To celebrate this event here on the blog, I've reread Tuck Everlasting, and now, cannot help to express to you all my experience reading it now as compared to before.

My Reading Experience Past and Present
Going into Tuck Everlasting again after so many years since I first and last read it was a nostalgic experience. Growing up, my and my sister's bookshelf held very few books, a few adult novels and some middle grade and young adult novels, so as a burgeoning book-lover, I often read books by reading those few novels over and over again. Tuck Everlasting was one of those few books we owned and I read and reread. Back then, I didn't quite appreciate the novel, for I thought it was a bit boring and the profound messages of the story flew right over my head, so I only reread it once and always forgone it thereafter for the other books we owned. I liked the curious toad and the bittersweet epilogue, though, and these were the few things I remembered from the book while rereading it now, as an avid reader in college.

From the very first page, the omniscient narrator of Tuck Everlasting paints a picture of a hot, hot week in summer of some peculiar yet restless people inexplicably coming together at a point that redefines life and living. As the peoples' story unfolded, I came to adore the narrator's relaxed and sage voice. Every time I picked up the book to continue reading from where I left off, I always found myself falling into the narrator's voice with awe and fascination like a small child looking up at an adult telling a fantastical story. I eagerly took in all the words and images as if I was reading the book for the very first time, but since I knew I wasn't, I felt a bit worried for myself as I read and imagined it all. None of it felt or sounded familiar to me, and this may have been because I had forgotten the story after so many years, but I was still afraid that when I read Tuck Everlasting in the fourth grade, I was not really reading but merely looking at and sounding out words. The story didn't register in my mind as vividly and meaningfully then as it was now, and the thought made me feel guilty. My naive, nine-year-old self missed out on a book that could have taught me a very valuable lesson that could have made me a better person, and now I am faced with my own ignorance. I was grateful to be rereading the book again now, as an older and wiser person, so that at least I was giving myself a second chance at learning. I suppose that's the challenge and beauty of rereading a literary piece: its meaning takes on more shape as you interpret it with the new experiences and new perspectives you've gained since the last time you've read it.

40th Anniversary Edition
So while coming to appreciate Tuck Everlasting more than I did before, I came to like other elements of the story as well besides the aforementioned toad and epilogue. Like Winnie, the main character of Tuck Everlasting, when I was nine and first reading the story, I thought the members of the Tuck family, with their shared, big secret and, consequently, their long, endless lives, were crazy and their backstory was not to be fully believed in or trusted. But, unlike Winnie, no matter how endearing the Tucks showed themselves to be, my younger self could not come to like them; they were just a family of crazy people to me. Now, however, I understand why Winnie likes, even loves, the Tuck family. Even though they may seem odd and strange and, as they were often criticized for in the book, ignorant, as you get to know them and their struggles and knowledge, you come to realize how truly wise and intelligent these people are, and when you relate their burdens to your own, you grow to love and care for them. I guess, when I was nine, I did not grasp this message of sympathy and care for others, let alone understand the significance of the Tuck family itself, but now that I do, I feel enlightened and renewed in my perspective of life and humanity. Also, because of this understanding that I've gained from the book, I now actually really like Winnie as a character. While my younger self saw nothing of Winnie except rebelliousness, I now see that some of my own self can actually be found in Winnie's restlessness and innocence as well as her rebellion. I also admire her utter maturity. Unlike the proud adults in the book and, admittedly, my nine-year-old self, she, as only a ten-year-old, was able to comprehend the greatness and consequentiality of immortality as well as show love and care to some of the most criticized populations in the world, from the lone and ugly toad to the poor and reclusive family.

“What if you could live forever?”
Rereading Tuck Everlasting had also got me thinking about the idea of forever and living forever, and if I were given the choice like Winnie, would I take that chance and, if I did, what would I do with my endless amount of time. Well, first of all, the mere thought of forever scares me to the point that my mind can't and won't comprehend. I do not wish to be left behind on the cycle of life like the Tucks and watch time and space go by around me. I want to grow and learn and live for however long I'm given to live and then, hopefully, pass away satisfied and content. Also, as much as I like my youth as much as the next person, I'd be sad to remain eighteen forever. People my age can only do so much until others question our credibility and competence, and no matter what and how many experiences I may go through in my life that I may know I am capable of doing more, everyone around me will only see a petite eighteen-year-old who can pass as sixteen. Significant life events, such as getting married and raising my own family, will also be rendered impossible because such things are experienced later in a person's life, and my life will no know such "later," only a kind of cruel pause. But, if my situation were to suddenly become like the Tucks' and the choice was made for me so that I had to live forever, I think I would take on various, well-paying jobs (assuming I (somehow) continue with my current education and academic plans), save up my money, and finally travel the world. My sister and I have endless fantasies of traveling and visiting the homes of our heroes and the settings of our favorite books, so if I am to watch the world change and evolve until the end of time, then I will watch from various points of the world itself. I'll hike up to Manchu Picchu, tour the remnants of the Renaissance, and visit the hallowed plains of battles won and lost to reflect on the historical past I will never truly know as intimately as I will the future. Then I will look toward the now-infinite future by settling in and then moving away from different states and countries like they are only mere chapters of my newfound immmortality. I'll no longer be able to measure my life in days, weeks, months, and years for they will only blur together; I'll measure my life by what is truly transient and evolving: places and people and things.

I really enjoyed rereading Tuck Everlasting and revisiting Winnie, the Tuck family, the toad, and the mysterious woods of the Foster family. Gaining all this new knowledge and perspective from a book that I had read nearly a decade ago has moved me in so many ways, I highly recommend everyone, both of those who have already read Tuck Everlasting and those who have not at all, to read this book, maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon, and discover/rediscover its beauty and sincerity.

Get your copy of the Tuck Everlasting 40th Anniversary edition (which includes a foreword by Gregory Maguire) here and follow the #Tuck40th blog tour here.

-Leslie

3 comments:

  1. I love the movie, never read the book. Hopefully I will one day.

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  2. i don't think i saw the movie in its entirety but i really want to see it. i think alexis bledel is perfect casting for winnie. :)


    elin, what is your blog link? i wanted to comment back on your blog but i couldn't find a link to your blog.

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  3. http://elinsliteraryworld.blogspot.no/

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