Fifth and sixth grade teachers have to have multiple copies of Tuck Everlasting on hand for their classrooms simply because it’s too thought provoking and touching not to share with your students. If you can do it for a literature group then read it aloud to your students during the course of the year. It’s bound to provoke much discussion.
The book, which centers on a family who discovers a well containing life preserving water, was the first book I recall that convinced me that I wouldn’t want to live forever. The Tucks are the family in question who happen to stumble upon a well which they drink from only to realize later that the water made them immortal. Some of the more gruesome details provide examples of how they escaped death through numerous years only to meet a present day young girl, Winnie, who discovers their secret. Thinking they have only one way to protect the secret, the Tucks abduct Winnie from her home, though not realizing that they are being pursued by a creepy man who knows of the well and is trying to find it so that he can capitalize on it.
What turns out to be an abduction ends up being an inspiring journey for the young girl, as she befriends her kidnappers, in particular the teenage boy, Jesse, and helps them conceal the well from the crazy man in the yellow suit who eventually meets a quite violent death.
The story focuses on issues of mortality, friendship, young love and has its readers question the possibility of living forever by giving that choice to Winnie, who in the course of the book has to decide if she will drink from the well or live out a natural life. Her final decision tells us much about her, and perhaps its author.
Full of surprises and delight, Tuck Everlasting is sure to capture the imagination and cause the young reader to ponder life and death, especially when placed in a Religious context. Though violent in some parts, Tuck Everlasting’s plot and weighty issues surpass its occasional grizzly depictions.