almost a year after we first ventured into the wonderful world of wizarding ...
with our brilliant tour guide, J.K. Rowling ...
1 epic tale of a boy with a lightning shaped scar
And all shared with my 2 daughters ...
NOW ... That's Magic!
This has been such a huge part of our lives over the past year, I feel a need to decompress and release all of the thoughts and emotions that have been aroused through reading these books. All of which was magnified because I was reading the story out loud to my two darling girls.
As we began, with "The Sorcerer's Stone", I felt the magic of this world as if I, too, were entering Hogwars for the first time, completely unaware that this world had even existed. The first book was fun, enchanting, innocent and endearing. I fell immediately in love with so many, I longed to have an old friend named Albus and a loveable body guard named Hagrid. I wished to be able to attend magical feasts and quidditch matches. I teared up at the wise words shared between Harry and Dumbledore at the end of the book ... and my girls soon figured out that mom would be crying a lot in the books to come. But I can read through my tears, and I did!
Then Hogwarts returned with a new, very lovable character ... Dobby!!! Who doesn't need a friend/fan this so loyal and devoted??? We were laughing our heads off as we watched Dobby make Harry's life miserable in his attempts to save him. We saw the difference one year makes as the sweet, innocent first years turn into actual wizards - with skills and knowledge and courage in "The Chamber of Secrets". And Dumbledore reminds us all that, "It's our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." Definitely a great life lesson.
And as we moved into the third installment "Prisoners of Azkaban" ... I realized we had become prisoners of Harry Potter! We were in this for the long haul and would not be getting off this boat until Voldemort was gone FOR GOOD! This book was the most tender to me ... I felt this book more than the others. I cried a LOT in this book - my poor girls kept asking me if I was okay and after taking a minute to compose myself and get breathing again, I would continue on until the next wave of emotion overtook me. And in the end, when Harry wonders about the stag that saved him from the Dementors, about his father, about what is real and what is impossible.
"It was stupid, thinking it was him, " he muttered. "I mean, I knew he was dead."
"You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him..."
It took a moment for Harry to realize what Dumbledore had said.
Thank goodness Dumbledore is always there to strengthen him and help him believe in himself and the epic mission that lies before him.
This book remains my favorite of the 7, the lessons of this book were tender, and motivational and full of love. For Harry to finally have a physical family, to find more people that he could trust and look up to. To come to know his father through his father's dearest friends, it all touched me very close to my own heart. I know how important it is to have a connection to a father through the friends he made in this life - it brings so much joy to your own.
And one other fantastic aspect of this book was that I fell in motherly love with Fred and George ... their fun, clever, loyal natures were really highlighted here and I felt myself wanting to have my own little Fred and George running around my own home. In fact, we joke that if I would have read the books before having my boys, there is little doubt that The Boy and The King would have been named Fred and George instead!
The first three books went pretty quick, they were shorter and sweeter and much faster for reading. Then came "The Goblet of Fire" ... Oh my, this was my least favorite. But, I accept the importance of the GREAT AMOUNT OF CONTENT that came through in this book. It took us some time to work our way through this book, it even made it's way on our trip to Disneyland. In fact, we started in January and didn't finish until the middle of April. That was a workout! This one really caught me a bit off guard though, when I realized that completely innocent people would be killed off, wow! I didn't quite know that was coming, I figured that Dumbledore wouldn't make it to the end of the series, but he is one of the warriors and warriors will have to die. But bringing bringing demise upon the innocent, well that set a whole new tone for the series and I started taking them much more seriously from that moment on.
As tough as the fourth book was, I was dying to get into the fifth and see if I would be able to connect a little better with that one. Sure enough I did. "The Order of the Phoenix" got me excited and fired up again. I found a kindred spirit in Molly Weasley. I saw our protagonists really grow - even if Harry was filled with a lot of frustration and angst ... he might be the chosen one, but he was still a teenager. I was glad that they were keeping him real - but I was also glad to see him growing. We had to take a little break during this one as we were entertaining our guests from Spain, but we managed to finish it up a few days after our visitors returned home. I was just so glad to come to know the Order in this book, so glad the author took this direction to open us up to this amazing group of wizards that would be the family Harry'd never had.
And then we get to "The Half-Blood Prince"!!! Oh my, I am such a sucker for a sweet bond between heroes and Harry and Dumbledore finally get to get the ball rolling and work together through out so much of this book. It was literally just like eating candy for me to go through each page and see their strengths and weaknesses come together in such a beautiful and timeless bond. It is all starting to come full-circle - you could see where certain details were necessary, and the role they would play in the looming final event. This book left me primed and ready for the final showdown - the big battle - the downfall of one of the most villianous characters I've come across.
One of the funny things was that I had found out that Dumbledore would meet his end in this volume, and I was dreading it. Almost everything made me cry, I saw everything as a precursor to his death and I couldn't quite stand it. I hate finding out about things ahead of time. The same thing happened with Sirius, and it totally affected my reading of the fifth book. Every single scene with Sirius seemed to be his last, and every single scene brought me to dread. But, even knowing these things, we still made it through, I had to hold on to my girls at different points, hold their hands, pat their heads and let them do the same to me. Especially as we moved into the 7th book and again, knowledge of another's demise was made known to me before even opening the first page. Unfortunately, it happened to be my favorite of favorites (well, one of two, as they are a pair). So, "The Deathly Hallows" started up with me knowing that no character was safe, no emotional tie would be strong enough to keep them "alive" and I was going to see some of my dearest, most preferred literary characters go to that big old literary heaven in the sky.
And we started the book. I knew that I couldn't let it drag on forever. So, we took it seriously, we stayed up late some nights, we read for hours on end when there was a day off from school. We read while we were waiting for piano lessons, we read while the boys watched Star Wars. We chugged through like a locomotive and found ourselves on the ride of a lifetime.
We laughed out loud, we jumped in our seats, we cried and we feared. We waited and waited for the inevitable showdown and finally we cheered and triumphed with the great turn of events that left a young man alive, able and ready to finally start his own life, a normal life, nothing like he had ever known. He was finally able to have a family and a constancy in his life and without the dreadful shadow of Voldemort hanging over him!
I felt that the many, many details from the previous books were important and not just thrown in there as fillers. Ms. Rowling really made each word have a purpose in her epic tale of a young boy, and the magic that saved and made his life.
How happy I am to have had this experience with my girls. We laughed and cried together more than I would have ever imagined as we set out on this adventure a year ago. The bonding has been sweet and sincere and deep, the time spent together, beyond description. And our understanding of human relationships increased and deepened.
In reading aloud I found that my best character was, unfortunately, Professor Umbridge ... man I did her really well!!! But McGonagall was a close second. Oh well - someone has to play the bad guy (or woman, in this case). I was also left wanting to do so many things, unfortunately, all of these would be impossible as this was a work of fiction. But, some little corner of my heart still wants to have lunch with Molly Weasley, go shopping at the Weasley's magic store, ride on a broom, befriend a house elf and get a pet phoenix.
So where do you go from here? This magical roller coaster ride has come to an end. There is a bit of a let down, much like having your home filled with friends and family for a party and then left alone the next morning with all those good memories and feelings in your heart, and sink full of dishes to tend to, and alone to boot!
Anyhow - thank you Ms. Rowling for a magical experience, I hope my boys will want to do this as well in a few years!!! I am ready and waiting for them now!