Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harry Potter

I remember the first time I'd ever heard of Harry Potter. It was around 1999 or so and there were only 2 or 3 books out yet. I was in college and working at the library on campus. One of the librarians, an outgoing Asian lady of about 40, was obsessively talking about "Harry Potter!!" all the time. I wondered what on earth she was meant and so, out of curiosity, I went to find the books. Of course I found what appeared to be children's books, which further confused me as to why a 40-something woman was seemingly obsessed with them. Mostly out of curiosity, I decided to try them. And... as they say... the rest is history.

As any good Potter fan knows, these books are generally read at lightning speed, with the reader unable to put them down for anything. Page after page I read, rapt with attention at these wonderful stories. For nearly ten years, a third of my life, I waited with baited breath for the next installment to come out. I wanted to see what happened next! I would buy the hardback the day they came out, read them rapidly in a day or two, and then would re-sell them at a higher price on eBay to some other rabid fan. I now own tattered paperback copies, read and re-read over the years.

As the series went on, the books grew longer, though they never seemed to take any more time to devour. The last book was the most painful to read. I was drawn in, like watching a horror movie, as the characters whom I'd grown to care so much about over the past decade were being killed right and left, unceremoniously, at the hands of He Who Shall Not Be Named. I cried as Hogwarts crumbled, the location of so many adventures and triumphs. When Harry himself died, I was beside myself with grief, yet still I turned the pages. As the narrative unraveled further yet, and as it turned out, Harry was not actually dead, and did in fact live to kill Voldemort himself, I felt overjoyed! It seemed to be a very fitting ending to a long journey.

I loved especially the 19 years forward part at the end of the last book. It felt like a salve, put on a wound that had occurred during a long drawn-out battle. I loved knowing that these characters were able to live on. Hogwarts was going to be restored to it's former glory, with new generations of wizard children about to have their own adventures within it's halls, oblivious of the wars that were fought there when their parents were young. I felt a pang of bittersweetness when we learned that Teddy Lupin was also attending school at Hogwarts. I wondered if he knew of his parent's heroic deaths?

It's funny because these characters feel so real to me. Obviously I know they're not, but there's something interesting about growing up with a story, reading it bits at at time. It helps the characters take on a life of their own, like you're reading snippets of someone's blog, learning about their life as they live it. Years passed and I lived my own life, while also they were living theirs. Every year or so I was able to check in on them and see how they were doing. It's a bit sad to think that I won't be able to find out what happens next... although I am very glad to know that they make it at least 19 more years in relative peace and happiness. Maybe one day we'll have a new series to pore over, watching the next generation's antics and adventures. One can hope!

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