I know I've been a little heavy on the Harry already this month. However, when it comes to naming my top book of the year - no contest. My mom started me on Harry Potter during Christmas 1999 when she gave me the first three books. I’d heard a bit about this Harry Potter character, but I had no idea what I was in for. I think I read all three books during that semester break. The next 8 years were spent waiting. Waiting for Goblet of Fire – which wasn’t too long of a wait, waiting an excruciating three years for Order of the Phoenix, waiting for Half-Blood Prince, and then, this past July, the wait was over. The mailman delivered Deathly Hollows at 4 p.m. Saturday and I finished reading Sunday at 5 p.m. (Unlike other readers, I did take a break to sleep, eat, etc.)
When you’ve been reading a series you find so magical for nearly 10 years, and you know it’s going to come to end, you have high expectations. My high expectations were met – surpassed even. The story of Harry Potter came full circle (an Epilogue even!) and I was happy with it. The magic world is at war, and Harry, Ron and Hermione are on special assignment from Professor Dumbledore to slowly kill Lord Voldermort by destroying the Horcruxes that contain pieces of his soul. It was odd not to be in the halls of Hogwarts with the students, instead traveling to the ends of the continent with the three wizards. The death toll increased exponentially in this book, each bringing tears to my eyes and gasps to my lips. But I had to remember that these wizards were fighting, and dying, for freedom.
And that’s the thing with the Harry Potter series, especially the last three books. The parallels to our real world are hard to miss: death, oppression, hatred, discrimination, dirty politicians, war, and denial, but also love, strength, truth and hope. There are so many wonderful things about the series - getting millions of kids to learn the “magic” of reading, a struggling writer discovering her dream and never losing her integrity - that I could go on and on. But, either I’m preaching to the choir, or those are discoveries a new reader has to make on his or her own. These books will be around for generations though, and I’m anxious to see the stories be enjoyed all over again by those close to me.
[Fun Fact: J.K. Rowling recently hand-wrote and illustrated seven copies of one final Harry book, The Tales of Beetle the Bard. Six of those she gave as gifts to those close to the series, and one was auctioned off this month for nearly $4 million (all of which goes to a children’s charity). See stories here and here.]
Happy New Year!