I've already come forth with my latent love for one Ronald Weasley (and I'll never forgive that brainy, stuck-up Hermione Granger for stealing him from me), but when I wrote about that, I really was laughing at myself. A few months ago, being years removed from Harry Potter (I read the l final book when it first came out, and never turned back) gave me enough distance to remember the silly obsession.
|Time Magazine, September 1999.|
Nevertheless, my passion stayed true, right until the end. I refused to see the movies (which was what I considered, at the time, to be a symbol of a "pure" fan...oh the irony...I have since seen a few of them), I read most of the books three, four, five times each. As I grew older, however, and the space between book releases became greater, I would lose interest, be reabsorbed into my own teenage dramas, far away from the non-existant magical world I had spent much of my pre-adolescence so enamored with. I was 19 years old when the 7th book came out, and I started reading around the clock-- a week before it was launched I re-read numbers 5 and 6 (just, you know,
But then it was over, the entire nerve-grating adventure, done forever without even possibility of returning for an eighth novel. I closed the last book, sorely disappointed that the entire series never addressed anything about what I considered at the time to be "real life" topics: sex, drugs, and religion. For instance, why do they have Christmas, Easter and Godparents, but no mention of whether or not they are Christians? Surely, for all the philosophical blah-blah that happens in the series, you would think it might have come up. I decided Rowling was one of two things: too exhausted to touch on religion (despite the fact that she so painstakingly included the two largest Christian holidays and the addition of a Christian tradition of Godparentage), or she had a mental lapse and forgot about it. And where was the steam? Where was the sex? You mean to tell me that they keep all these high school age kids pent up in a magical castle and none of them are doing the no-pants dance? Then what the hell was the room of requirement for? I was so upset that only "snogging" was involved. Rowling was so quick to sensor herself. No stirrings bigger than "a feeling behind the navel." Even butterbeer had to be corrected (because no one can have 13 year olds drinking), only house elves can get drunk off of it. How convenient. Don't crucify me! I was an advanced reader. Everything I learned about sex at an early age was from the thick adult contemporary novels I stole from my parents' nightstands and hid under my bed (Summer Sisters..what a steamy read, even still. To think that I read that one when I was 12!).
When I read it this time around, however, I was caught in the stranglehold again. At times I belly-laughed, at others I was breathless with fear, and at others still, I sobbed. And I finally saw that Rowling was not writing about "normal" teenage life. She was writing about love and friendship and the struggle between good and evil, and a teenager finding the moral, righteous path. It's about fear and conquering fear and knowing when to trust and when not to trust. It's about understanding that nobody, not even Harry's beloved, wise Dumbledore, can be a perfect human being, and understanding that just because you are flawed, this doesn't mean that you won't be forgiven. This was a series of books that shaped out entire generation and showed us how much fun you can have with your imagination, and under all of that fantastic imagination, there is real heart and lessons to be learned. And oh, how I still wish I could be Ron Weasley's American girlfriend and have a wand and go to Hogwarts and ride on a broomstick!