Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Alright, so Jane Austen as I have mentioned really drained me out at times.  I found myself reaching to read something short but different in between each novel so that I would have the craving to get back into Jane Austen and finish her novels.

I came across this book accidentally when I was working a couple of weeks ago.  I was on break and I was browsing through a book-shelf of books in the lunch room.  And there it was, Tuck Everlasting.  I had seen the movie a long time ago, and I thought, why not?  I thought I might as well read this book since I have seen the movie and maybe now I can compare the book to it... as a reference... plus it's always cool to read a youth or children's book.  It takes a different mind-set and different perspective to appreciate them.  Not only that, it's only 137 pages long, so I figured I would read it in one sitting and then I would be ready to get back into Jane Austen.  And it worked.

It turns out, this is a really well-written and substantive youth book.  I would recommend it to any teenager :), maybe even to an adult if they want a quick bed-time story ;)....

There were definitely some ideas that had my imagination going.  I found it so refreshing to see the author ask important questions in the book.  I have always believed it's crucial to our awareness and our quest for knowledge and wisdom to ask as many questions as possible, and it's even more important for the youth generation to begin doing that as early as possible in their life.  The author herself in an interview said she writes from the perspective of 'unanswered questions.'  So I think it's refreshing to see a book introducing that concept to the youth generation.

Another thing I found uplifting was when the author was introducing the concept of property.  If someone owns land, how far deep into the Earth do they really own it?  That's a stretch of the imagination.  I never thought to think of it in that perspective.... It's unique, it's different....

The author brings up the notion that 'nothing ever seems interesting when it belongs to you - only when it doesn't.'  I think that is relevant for the youth generation of today because it seems to me the majority of our youth likes to follow the band-wagons of almost every trend. I think it ultimately stems from this idea, that probably it is more interesting to get on the band-wagon of things because the things don't belong to them yet, they want things that other people have - whatever technological gadget it may be, or whatever video-game someone else might be playing, or whatever else you can think of it.  But, apart from a small minority of youth who have learned to be independent and individualistic and think for themselves, most others want what others have.  I like how this book opens this topic for possible discussion; that it's possible the reason other things that we don't necessarily have seem interesting to us is because they don't belong to us, it's as simple as that.  So that begs the question, in a more adult fashion, is it en-culturation or human nature to have this tendency?  Maybe a little too advanced for some of our youth today, but it's better to have the platform for discussion than be ignorant of it.

The ultimate theme in this book, is the theme of immortality.  The author talks about 'the spring as being something left over from the initial plan of how the world should be? and maybe something went wrong.'  That's an interesting perspective for another discussion.  And what is it like being immortal?  The books sort of unfolds some aspects of being immortal and what it would be like to live forever: having all the time in life to clean up messes, time to see everything in the world, remaining all the while young and never having to worry about settling down or in a certain place, doing what strikes you at the present moment and never worrying about the future, but against all this never being able to stay in one place for the fear of someone finding out who you really are, never having friends or people you can trust, never settling or putting down roots anywhere.... Is immortality a blessing? or a blessing in disguise?  This is another multi-dimentional subject for the youth generation to explore, allowing them to realize what being mortal is in opposition to knowing what being immortal is like. 

Lastly, I want to mention two quotes from the book, that I found to be pretty profound.  Definitely subjects to ponder on and think about.

'The water, you look at it every morning, and it looks the same, but it ain't.  All night long it's been moving, coming in through the stream down east here, always quiet, always new, moving on.  You can't hardly see the current, can you? And sometimes the wind makes it look like it's going the other way.  But it's always there, the water's always moving on, and someday, after a long while, it comes to the ocean."  

'Freaks, you want us to be freaks.  In a patent-medicine show.'
I absolutely loved how this book, in total of 137 pages, makes you think on so many levels.  Definitely a must read for teenagers.  Easy to read, quick to read, but very rewarding.

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