24 July 2007

A Sad Goodbye

FAIR WARNING: If you have not yet read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, do not read this post, because the ending will be spoiled for you.

I was a latecomer to the Harry Potter craze. On our honeymoon, DH and I took an Alaskan cruise, and I struck up a conversation with a woman who appeared to be in her 60s, who was reading HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban as we made our way through Glacier Bay. I asked her why any adult would want to read those books, it was my seriously uninformed notion that the books were 'just for kids.'

"Oh my dear," she admonished me, "you simply must read them. They are wonderful. Have you read Bridge to Terebithia? The Chronicles of Narnia? Lord of the Rings?" At my affirmative nod to each, she continued, "If you liked those, you will LOVE this. It is wonderful. Wonderful. My students love it, and the teachers do too."

Turns out she was a school librarian, and we had a nice chat about all sorts of books. By the time DH wandered by (the boy can NOT sit still) about an hour later, we were fast friends. I promised to pick the books up when I got back home.

I read the first three books in about a week, and then had to wait along with everyone else for book #4 to be released. And 5. And 6. My sisters, my mother and several other people became fans all at the same time. The anticipation each time was a big part of the fun. I never did go to a bookstore and wait in line at midnight to purchase a copy; I wish now I had. I ordered each book online, and it would appear on my doorstep on the release date. No lines, but no chance to dress up in my HP costume, either.

A fangirl friend told me that she felt as if it was the end of an era, that she was almost bereft, knowing that there wouldn't be another Harry Potter book. Almost as if there was a mourning period. I feel the same way. I have read each book (the first time, anyway) in one sitting, usually in 4 or 5 hours, unable to put it down. Knowing what happens at the end does not diminish the pleasure of re-reading them, and I've probably read each book about 10 times over the years.

This book was different from the others, and I'm happy with the way that it ended. Sad that it has come to an end, but pleased with the way it turns out. I'd have been devastated if she killed Harry off, as was widely rumored. Ron and Herminone and Harry and Ginny ending up together was perfect, and I know I'm probably not the only fan who thinks so.

The Muggle Registration stuff that shows up about midway through was strongly, STRONGLY reminiscent of WW II and Hitler's Germany. The whole culture of fear surrounding Voldemort and the Death Eaters made me think of many repressive regimes, from Romania in the 1980s to Stalin, Mussolini, and some of the more recent terrors in Iraq and parts of Africa.

Although I doubt seriously that she was making an intentional political statement, Rowling does live in Scotland, part of Great Brittan, and the Brits are talking about all sorts of initiatives to report on your neighbor's suspicious activities.

Love her or hate her, one thing she has managed to accomplish that no other author has ever been able to do is to get kids into reading. My librarian friend told me that she would have kids bring the HP books back to her and say, "This was GREAT! What else ya got?" Kids who wouldn't be readers otherwise, kids who were more interested in Playstation than anything else, became readers because of Rowling and Harry.

If I were her, I'd be proudest of that accomplishment.


Dawna said...

She is brilliant, isn't she?

Lucy Arin said...

yep, I bow down to her illumination!