goodbye, potter

last night, i saw the final film of the HARRY POTTER series. it marks the end of an era, not just for Rowling and the actors and everyone else involved in the making of the movies, but for the audience — the viewers and readers. as Jo Rowling herself said at the british premiere of HP 7.2, “no story lives unless someone wants to listen, so thank you to you all.”

the beauty and magic of a book or a poem or a movie or a song is that once the artist has created it and releases it into the world, it becomes ours as we read/listen/watch it with glasses colored by our own life experiences.

these books by Rowling have definitely become my own. (you too?) i discovered these books the summer i was 19 and sister E was 8. (she was quite the advanced reader.) i have this vivid memory of sneaking into her room to pull them off her shelves while she wasn’t looking. i read and read and read, but i never remembered turning the pages or seeing the sunshine move across the sky or doing anything but gallivanting across hogwarts with harry, ron, and hermione. my mom would call me for dinner and i’d look up from the pages and blink, confused, because i was in my room in NJ and not somewhere in england. after i finished the first three books, i was devastated because i wanted more magic and i wanted it now, but unfortunately, i had to wait.

and while i waited for the next books to be published a funny thing happened. the books broke down barriers — of the imagination, but more importantly, of genres. they made it acceptable for adults to read YA. this was a BIG moment for me because i’ve always enjoyed reading YA books more than the age appropriate books i “should” be reading. with their freshness and humor and awkwardness and pain and plot and voice and figuring out how they fit into the world surrounding them and figuring out their own powers…i understand YA books. growing up is hard, but it’s something i remember acutely because, heck, i’m still experiencing and doing and feeling it even now despite the fact i should be done with all that. Jo gave us the go ahead to read YA and with that, i was finally able to embrace it wholeheartedly. i admited to myself (and thus the world) that this was my genre. Jo made it cool, and for that, i thank her. (not that i wouldn’t have embraced YA without her help, but maybe not as publicly…)

but back to my original point. with the release of the final movie, it seems like we’ve finally reached the end, but WAIT, not so because the stories live on in us, her audience, whether we are re-reading the books, re-watching the movies, or sharing the books with kids who are now old enough to read them (hello, niece M!). these stories (and all stories for that matter) continue to live and breathe and cast their spells on us muggles.

is there anyone who’s had that type of influence on YOU? a teacher? actor? director? author? mentor? coach? who gave you the courage to embrace your truest self?

p.s. since we’re talking all things Rowling, have you heard or read the transcript of her commencement speech at harvard’s 2008 graduation? i was there (as a guest, not as a graduate. i wish!) and as usual, Jo’s words have a way of leaving the rest of us speechless.

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6 Responses to “goodbye, potter”

  1. Emily Says:

    Fitting how you started them the summer you were nineteen and the era would conclude the summer I am nineteen :) can’t wait to see the movie! too bad I have to wait until sunday :(

  2. adriana Says:

    I would SO love to be able to read these books for the first time again! Oh, the excitement, the adrenaline, the frenzied turning of pages!!! These books are truly special. There may be books that have emotionally affected me more powerfully — like The Sky Is Everywhere, for example — but there is no book that has been more a part of me than the Harry Potter books. Nothing comes even close!

    It’s funny, in 2007 when the last book came out it was easy to lie to myself that it’s not over yet, because the movies weren’t all out yet. I don’t even really like the movies! But now it really IS over, and that makes me very sad :(

    • abby mumford Says:

      But the very good thing is that the world Rowling created is so detailed, you learn new things with each re-read. Hooray!

  3. Kelly Breakey Says:

    I am so sad to say I have never read any of the Potter books. I have seen all of the films, but I think that I need to add this to my list of TBR stuff. Damn, that list just keeps growing.

    • abby mumford Says:

      WHAT? BLASPHEMY. these books not only need to be added to your TBR, but moved straight to the top of it! i’m so jealous — you get to read them for the first time! i remember that. it was glorious.

      actually, i’m planning on re-reading them this winter. we should do a mini book club with them… hmm, i like this idea.

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