So why would I dedicate my Thankful Thursday to Harry Potter? On my Son's BIRTHDAY, no less? How could the Boy Who Lived merit a spot with my friends and family? It's about Timing, sort of... but Identity mostly... let me e'splain...
In 2001 Thing 1 was a first grader. I was working in a relatively new city, trying diligently at my job, listening to a lot of NPR... and I heard the first hype about Harry Potter—it was related to a book release (I think Goblet of Fire) and there was some 'controversy'--conservatives wanting to ban the things for 'witchcraft'... and you know me... if conservatives want to ban them, it went on my 'I'd like to read that' list—but based on what I heard, I was thinking... maybe when she's 8 or 9... I had a couple years.
In a grand, giant coinkidink, the elementary librarian allowed my 6-year-old to CHECK OUT Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone a short time later. My memory is hazy—I don't know if short time is weeks or months. What I DO know, is she brought that puppy home in November and she and I started reading it. And then I put her to bed and tucked myself away in a bedroom and read and read and read... and then Santa went to Sam's Club and bought the first THREE, so they were waiting in the GIFT cupboard until I was forced to WRAP them Christmas Eve. That was a DEVASTATING seven hours they were wrapped and inaccessible. I was only halfway through Chamber of Secrets (having a day job and two kids to put to bed every night after I bathed them)
By Prisoner of Azkaban, I was truly and deeply in love and Goblet of Fire came to live with us.
Now Goblet of Fire was a bit harder for me to assimilate... it is more meandering, more complex... SEEMS to take more tangents. Now, after I've read them all, I know how it all fits in, but at the time I read it, that was my least favorite, and it mellowed me. I was happy to hear Order of the Phoenix came out, but I hadn't really obsessed between the two.
See, this is how I see it... in the first four books, Harry is sort of thrust into his life and experiences. Yes, there are choices he makes, but at each point, the BIG plot point is sort of thrust at Harry—it isn't his own doing. In Order of the Phoenix Harry begins to take control of his own destiny. Oh, sure, he falls into some traps set by those who would use him—he makes plenty of mistakes, but he also takes control.
And I have to be honest... I adored the angst. I've heard from people who were near Harry's age at the time, or too recently PAST those feelings in their own heads who hated it, but I felt like Jo nailed it. And as Michael so fabulously pointed out yesterday, it had a delicious villain. Dolores Umbridge is so atypical of villains—she wears a bow and a pink cardigan, speaks with a sugary voice, worked diligently and tirelessly as a civil servant.... and she is the nastiest piece of work I've ever read. I think the reason is because I am a true conspiracy theorist and evil manipulating incompetence within the government rang just a little too true circa 2003... I HATE Umbridge.... HATE HATE HATE... and how impressive is that to write a character who brings out such emotion in readers?
But now we get to the real crux... I was fully sucked in with two years to wait... so I did some searching... found some stuff... and finally settled on a site that seemed user friendly (HPANA) and started reading some posts PREDICTING the outcomes of future books. The first conversation I joined was on the Wizard War thread and was about mirrors... I came on and said something—I'm sure it was extremely intelligent... and I was welcomed warmly and introduced to the Queens... my response? “I didn't know we had a Queen. I thought we were an autonomous collective.” and I was suddenly immersed in friends for life... not a couple... MANY.
But that's not the identity part. Erm... other than maybe the Naked World Domination thing... And the Watery Tart Part.... Okay, maybe there is a lot of identify there... born right out of Harry Potter theorizing.
But that theorizing brought up some ideas I happened to think I was pretty good and nobody believed me... CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!? One of them? That Voldemort required Death Eaters to kill their fathers... just as he had... Another? That Snape's mother, Eileen Snape... had been at SCHOOL with Tom Riddle... that she KNEW HIM.
Well y'all know me by now... NOBODY TELLS ME I CAN'T! I decided on a contrary approach... I would write a story PROVING it could have happened the way I said... I would write Eileen Snape's life story...
Now this wasn't my first attempt at writing. I'd written a LOT of poetry as an angsty teen. I'd journaled for a LONG time. But my only attempt at a novel had been deserted at 250 (single-spaced) pages, but only about 60% done... (my early works were long). What I had NOW THOUGH, was AN ENDING and a TIMELINE. See... I knew Eileen had a SON eventually. But I also had my OWN ending to the story. I wrote The Other Prince.
During my early chapters I had good feedback, and one person in particular—you all know her as Rayna, suggested I could write a novel of my own. I'd had an idea dating several years back... and I was REALLY encouraged someone else thought so... I finished my story before I really got going, but THAT was where the seed was planted... and that was where my writer identity solidified. The Burrow was born there. And so really, was Hart, the writer... So I am very THANKFUL for JK Rowling and Harry Potter.
So while the movies are NOT the books... they are cute and I have a certain fondness, but I will NEVER use the term 'great movies', I am riding the wave tonight... My kids and I are seeing a midnight show (I gave in partially because it is Thing 2's birthday.
TOMORROW I will give you a review... but LATE. I can't write it until I see the movie, and I will be too tired after, and too busy in the morning... so maybe noon...