I have a confession to make, and it’s not an easy one as a tried and true Potterhead. In the beginning, I poo-poo’ed the Harry Potter book series big time. I was “too cool” for a kids’ book series about a young wizard with a stupid birthmark and a seeming death wish. I wasn’t interested in books with cartoon drawings on the cover. I didn’t want to hear about Ron or Hermione (what kind of name is Hermione anyway?). Hagrid? Who was that? Dumbledore sounded like a dumblebore…
You couldn’t tell me nothin’ about no thing.
I wasn’t hearing it.
It was lame, I was not, end of story.
That is, until the day I removed my head from its place firmly up my own ass and discovered what I had been missing. I remember where I was when my friend had one of the books on her coffee table in her apartment in our hometown. I picked it up, probably made some stupid comment about it, and she handed me a challenge I believe she knew I would not turn down. “Try it. Read it. If you don’t like it, I won’t ask you to read the others. And if you do, I have the next two in the series, and we’re going to buy the next one at the next midnight release at Borders. Deal?”
Well, nary a challenge involving a book gets past me (except Fifty Shades. I cannot, y’all. I can.not.). So, I picked that sucker up, took it home, and proceeded to read the entire thing in a day. Returning it to her, I picked up the next two, completely enraptured. And I devoured them with similar quickness (aaaah, the days when I could sit and read without anyone calling me “Mommy” or needing a cup of water or expecting anything from me… they go by so fast.). I was hooked. I was more than hooked! I was in love, and I needed more… more.. more. I was changed, forever, by that book series about the boy with the scar, the Boy Who Lived. And his world! His friends! His enemies! Hogwarts! The magical creatures! The teachers! I was completely sold on every last detail, and I was head over heels with all of it. Every bit. I’ve never been so in love with a book series…and I have never been more grateful that I tried something I had originally written off.
The world of Harry Potter is one unlike I have ever experienced in literature. From the language to the imagery, the magic to the mischief, the Harry Potter book series is one that is timeless and gives me everything I need in roughly eleventy billion pages – the classic Good v. Evil dynamic mixed with teenage angst, some light romance, and one-liners for days. The books have given the world something to celebrate, time and again, over and over, for twenty years now. I can’t believe it!
I’ve celebrated the Quidditch wins, mourned the important losses, cheered on Harry as he took on one challenge after another, and witnessed my boy Ron Weasley fall in love with his only real equal in the books, as far as I am concerned. I have laughed at the jokes, choked down anger at the injustices, and smiled when all was righted in the Hogwarts Universe I was so enamored with. But, for me, it didn’t stop at the books…
I have been sorted into Slytherin, and I wear my green proudly. I have a Harry Potter tattoo and am planning two more. I have discussed the events of the books and films as if they are real, happening in front of me, instead of the work of some incredible imagination whose power goes beyond anything I could ever dream of. The films are incredible – bringing the story to life for all the world to see – but, of course, the books are always better. I never, ever understood the point of reading books over again (except Fahrenheit 451 because it is my all-time favorite). But, I have read this series more than once. And I think I’m going to have to do it again very soon!! It’s so good, I can’t explain their importance in my world with merely a blog post. They’re that important to me – and to so many others I know!
I have to wonder if JK Rowling knew all of this would happen – knew the power her words would have over an entire generation of people, and now, the generation after them. Did she know that in creating characters for all of us to fall in love with, relate to, despise, console, and feel connected to, she was creating a tribe to represent all of us? Did she know we’d feel like Ron when we stood up for what was right? Could she have guessed we’d walk a little bit taller when Hermione punched Malfoy? When Dolores Umbridge finally got ousted from Hogwarts, could JK have known that students the world over who have found themselves under the disapproving eye of a teacher would rejoice and feel relief that the school they have grown to love would finally return to its normal, safe, reliable place once again? Could she have known that this series would have so many defining moments for so many people? I can’t believe she could, but I may be wrong.
Personally, I may not have a magical bone in my body, but you’d better believe there is more Luna Lovegood in me than I care to admit! And I am a PROUD Slytherin, even if the world sees my people as dark, evil, untrustworthy – we are really anything but. Hagrid is my homeboy. Snape was a hero to me. James Potter was kind of a dick, as far as I am concerned. Voldemort needed better parenting and an actual chance to feel love, and I will always have a soft spot for him because of how he turned out. I wish my uncles were as cool as Sirius Black. I’d love to attend Christmas at the Weasley’s, ugly sweaters and all. And, I don’t care who you are, when Cedric died, a piece of all of us went with him.
This magic, this wonder, this pure joy that a book series created for billions the world over to envelope themselves in is twenty years old today. A woman with a dream, who had hit rock bottom and had nothing to lose has now become one of the key inspirations and voices of her time all because she believed in The Boy Who Lived. Where would we be if she hadn’t brought this boy to life twenty years ago? Where would we be if she hadn’t taken the chance, seen past the rejections, and worked on finding that one person who also would believe, who would see the magic and potential in her words?
Where would we be in a world without Harry Potter? I, for one, cannot even bring myself to imagine it. For, a world without Harry Potter is no world for me.
The stories inside those pages will live in me forever…
I am forever changed because of them.
Thank you, JK Rowling.