I know what you’re thinking.
Why another Harry Potter post? Why add my voice to the many voices already discussing/praising this bespectacled global phenomenon? Yeah, yeah, we know, it ALL ends! The final movie! The last taste of icing on a very popular and profitable cake. Pottermania. From its humble beginnings (which have been much publicized) Harry Potter has made an obscene amount of money, broken pretty much every box office and publishing record, and captured the imagination of millions of muggles everywhere and… you know what, you’ve heard this all before – you know the story.
So why am I writing about it? Surely there’s nothing I can say about the “magic of Harry Potter” that isn’t being said more eloquently and efficiently somewhere else. Hell it’s been 130 words already and I’m still just talking about talking about Potter. I guess I’m writing about Potter because I love it. Like every other Potter fan in the world, the books FOUND me. About three pages into book three and I was hooked (I skipped the first two). Even though I was late to the party I was still fortunate enough to get the opportunity to wait a few long years between books. Years of rereading the stories and speculating endlessly on the fate of characters or debating plot possibilities.
Just as Death and Love made up the major themes of the seven books, in the 7 years that I shared with Harry Potter my life got it’s first taste of both real love and the overpowering permanence of death.
That’s nothing new either – all over the internet this weekend you can read about people who literally grew up with the series. Now, freely admitting that I grew up with a children’s book phenomena might make me sound a bit nerdy. In some circles (maybe even among my fellow Checkerboard Collective bloggers) it’s not necessarily COOL to be a Harry Potter fan, but that doesn’t matter to me. I still listen to my Amy Grant albums. Cool is not a priority. To me, Harry Potter was just exactly what I needed. It was the thing I didn’t know I was looking for until I found it.
I had a bit of a road to Damascus experience with Harry Potter. Up until 2004, a good 7 years into Pottermania, I hated all things Harry. I was a big Lord of the Rings fan who resented the fact that this cheeseball kids movie about a wizard was making more money at the box office than Gandalf. Begrudgingly, I tried to read the first book and hated it. I persecuted all Potter fans. I tried to convert them all to Middle Earth. I tried to make them all Narnians. Anything but Hogwarts.
It was when I went out west for school that my dad started actively encouraging me to give Potter a real chance. He told me that both him and my brother had had a similar skepticism about Potter when they had first approached the books but that Rowling was the real deal. She told a good story.
I always thought it was like The Adventures of Harry Potter, where in each book he had a new adventure. But they told me that it was really one big story told in seven parts, and that it was a mystery – with clues being dropped throughout and big questions being asked with each successive book. After giving me a brief synopsis my dad asked me the tantalizing question that got me into Potter, and that I continued to ask in the years leading up to my finally closing the last book 4 years ago. Why did Voldemort try to kill Harry Potter when he was a baby? And why couldn’t he? And why didn’t Voldemort die? And how could Harry possibly defeat him? Those questions have all been answered now. Even some of my post-book questions have been answered – questions like “How badly are they going to botch the Deathly Hallows movie?” (Answer: pretty badly) It’s all over. This Potter thing. It’s done.
Life is different now then it was all those years ago when I decided to pick up Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and was shocked to become so quickly and thoroughly hooked by Potter. Since then I’ve gotten married. I’ve lost three family members including my dad. There have been weddings. There have been Funerals. I live in a new house now. I have new friends. I have gray hairs.
My dad is gone now – he passed before the last two books came out. It’s too bad he never got to hear the end of the story. He had a pretty good idea about how it would end, but it really sucks he didn’t get to sit on the porch with Curtis and I that summer in 2007 when we cracked open Deathly Hallows together and read it in one night, side by side. Time really is something. It goes by so fast. But we have some time right now – so if you haven’t yet, go out and read those seven books.