the boy who lives

Why am I so obsessed with Harry Potter? Long before I gave birth to two equally-obsessed mammals, I devoured Harry Potter like I did Sweet Valley High romances when in the sixth grade. I had the advantage of the first two Harry Potter books being out when I first discovered the world’s most famous wizard, then I waited with great anticipation for each sequel that followed. Every time a new book was about to be released, I reread the entire series. That means I have read The Sorcerer’s Stone approximately six times (okay, seven if you include the time I read it to Jack and Colin).

The one book that I had not read multiple times was the long-awaited last book in the series, The Deathly Hallows, which I had read (until this weekend) a sum total of once. Of course, I meant to reread it before the first half of the movie came out last November, but decided instead to reread The Half Blood Prince, one of my favorites. Then kids, work, and other books consumed my time and before I knew it, we were on the cusp of the hallowed (no pun intended) release of part two (otherwise known in my house as “the eight movie”) without my getting in a repeat read.

That did not diminish my spirit. The boys and I re-watched a movie a night leading up to the premier. I cried at scenes I have seen scores of times. I prepared costumes for myself and the boys to wear to the movie and a costume party afterwards. I continued to read The Goblet of Fire to Colin, but found myself weepy for no reason. When my friend Amy told me that her 14-year old daughter had proclaimed the movie release of Deathly Hallows, Part Two as the end of her childhood, it struck a deep chord.

I know Harry Potter lives happily ever after, so why all the emotion? I’m too young to look at Harry, Ron and Hermione as my children, but obviously am too old and too muggly to regard them as peers. While the Harry Potter series depicts a world that either doesn’t exist or we are not a part of (depending on your hopes and dreams) there are profound lessons in the experiences of these fictional characters. In a time marked by a serious lack of cooperation being displayed by political leaders, our elected officials could learn to rally together to confront a crisis. In an era where people believe what they are told without putting in the extra time to investigate, we could all learn to double-check sources and put critical thought into our positions. And in a world where friendships are maintained via text, tweets, and Facebook posts, we could all stand to remember that our personal connections make us stronger and need to be nurtured.

It is safe to say there is no book series from my own childhood that impacted me the same way Harry Potter did. As my kids grow older, I hope they will continue to reread the books, learn new lessons, and of course, memorize new spells.

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