Saturday, July 16, 2011
So why is Harry Potter so important to this nearly senior citizen grandmother? Because just like my kids, I got sucked into that amazing world that Jo Rowling created. We bought the book Sorcerer's Stone (SS) for a son who wasn't a fast reader, hoping it would make him want to practice. Didn't work. Then.
The book sat on his bookshelf for a year until his next younger brother (who is a fast reader) decided to try it. Didn't take long before he was begging us to pick up Chamber of Secrets (CoS)and Prisoner of Azkaban (PoA). This was about the time Goblet of Fire (GoF) was coming out, and there was tons of talk about the books on TV.
I asked my son who'd read them to let me have his copies, so I could read them. I wanted to find out what all the fuss was about.
My life hasn't been the same since.
My family's love affair with the series began then. Everyone read them (my oldest son is the only one who never got past the first couple of books). My son who's not into reading, is very much into audiobooks. He LOVES the series. We've had some lively discussions about where we thought Jo was headed.
When I finished the 4th book, I told my hubby that I thought he'd love them, too. I went back to SS and started reading them aloud to him.
And that's when my first inkling began of what a treasure trove these books are. The thrill doesn't just come with the school book titles or authors (though they're hilarious) or the moving scenes about this poor abused boy seeking to find friends and acceptance while refusing to become an abuser himself.
It comes when you realize how that crafty Jo Rowling has hidden so many things in plain sight. Examples: Sirius Black is mentioned casually in SS but becomes a major play in PoA. Or that vanishing closet that Draco worked so hard on in HBP was first introduced in CoS. It's in that clever little spell Fred gives Ron to turn that stupid rat Scabbers yellow. We assume the spell doesn't work because it wasn't a real spell or because Ron did something wrong. But it might not have worked because Scabbers wasn't really a rat at all.
Clever, clever girl, that Rowling.
Because of the information that we learned with each new book, we had to go back and read the older books in the series again. The new information changed the way we viewed things.
It wasn't until Half Blood Prince (HBP), though, that I just HAD to have some answers. After reading the book, I wrote down a page full of questions. I talked with other people I knew who liked the books, and we bounced ideas around. But I wasn't satisfied. I thought perhaps there must be something online.
I first went to Mugglenet and signed up, though I never posted. I went to Jo's website and found that she'd awarded The Leaky Cauldron with the best fan website that year, so I went there. Turns out they had a forum called The Leaky Lounge, so I signed up there, too.
And that's where I found the Dumbledore Isn't Dead thread.
I got pulled into the debate (one of the three hottest ones discussed--the other hot topics included Snape's loyalty and whether or not Harry and Hermione would get together, what we called the 'shipping wars' with 'shipping' meaning relationships). The debate about Dumbledore still being alive included some pretty amazing discussions with people who were writers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, college professors, physicists, etc. The depth of the discussions was amazing. Seriously, people were looking at the trajectory of when Snape's spell hit Dumbledore and comparing the description of the spell compared with all the other Avada Kedavra deaths that had been described. Adults. Adults of all ages.
Kids' books? Who is anybody kidding to suggest these are just kids' books?
At the Lounge I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.
And then I did.
Go to heaven, that is.
Five years ago last March, I was invited to become a moderator. I was absolutely stunned but thrilled. I've met so many absolutely wonderful people through that experience, both Lounge members and other moderators. I have friends now from all over the world ... including some other aspiring authors (like Donna and Suzie).
As the frenzy began a few months before the release of Deathly Hallows, I got to mod the forum that was Unfogging the Future (named for one of Harry's Divination textbooks) and then once we had a title Unfogging Deathly Hallows and eventually Deathly Hallows Unfogged. People were so busy theorizing about what everything meant that for the two months prior to the release I'd spend my entire lunch hour and usually three hours each evening reading posts and making sure people behaved themselves (and didn't spoil--that was a battle for all of us, believe me).
Because I knew about the epilogue, which Jo had written before she wrote the first book, I worried about someone at a large bookstore event opening their book and going to the back to see who lived and died. You see, Jo told us that the last book was a book about war and that it would be a bloodbath. I had emotionally prepared myself that any and all characters might die.
I volunteered to help out with a release event at a small bookstore at Gardner Village. This resulted in me being interviewed on television the day before the book came out. You could have blown me over with a feather when I got that phone call and the guy said he heard I was a Harry Potter guru. The call came to my work. O_o Turns out the lady at the bookstore had been contacted about doing it and she referred them to me. My hubby graciously gave them my phone number. Because of all the theories I'd read, I was quite versed in the possibilities.
And just so you know, I called it. They asked me if I thought Harry would live or die. I said, "Yes."
That night I attended the release party with my family. Another moderator lived in that community, and she attended with her children and the two of us did trivia quizzes for people. The atmosphere fit, and the people were wonderful. I got my book at midnight and we headed home. I was (mostly) spoiler free.
We got to experience something no others will be able to. We lived through the time when no one knew what the outcome of the series would be.
My life has been enriched. Not just with the books, though they'd have been plenty. But with the people I've gotten to know and care for.