Tonight the adventure ends. What started as a way to pass the time in Eee’s apartment one weekend eight years or so ago, has finally resolved itself in the comfort of the marshmallow chair in the living room of my own house. It’s odd that the anticipation I felt yesterday as I checked the mailbox for the 400th time, is over in little more than 24 hours. Even odder to know it will never happen again. At least not that exact sense of excitement. I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The book itself was what I wanted it to be. All the mysteries explained, plots woven together and the fate of all the characters, which has been hanging so precariously in the balance, has been revealed. And even though it came out pretty much like I thought it would, I can’t help but feel a pang of sadness knowing the only way I will ever see these literary friends of mine again is if I go back and reread their stories. The problem with that though, is that I already know how those end. There are no more surprises, and in a sense, no more magic in my muggly world.
Although I am a rather voracious reader, I haven’t been attached to a set of characters or a series of stories this way since I was a child. While there are plenty of books I enjoy and characters who I connect with, the world of Harry, Hermione and Ron has been so compelling to me that as I reread the fifth and sixth books in preparation for the movie and the last book, I found myself once again crying over the loss of characters I loved. I don’t remember the last grown up book I cried over. Even the serials I loved as a child did not inspire the sheer love and emotion of Ms. Rowling’s work. She created something magical, and while I realize that is a poor word to chose given the subject of her books, it’s the only one that fits. I’m not, of course, talking about the much debated subject matter of magic, wizards and witches, but of the simple joy they inspire in readers across the globe. The joy of reading. The intrigue of a good story. The love and hatred of characters, who seem more like friends. As an English teacher, I’ve seen few books that have been able to instill a love of reading in kids the way the Harry Potter series has. To me, the way it has touched students, and brought a love and interest back to reading, is as amazing as the stories themselves.
Which is why, it pisses me off that some people, much like Ms. Rowling’s dementors, seem determined to suck all the fun and magic out of something so wonderful. I’m speaking, of course, of the spoilers. I’m not talking about people who find out hints or even the entire plot of the book for their own satisfaction. There are many people who have never read the books and never plan to, but who have watched the movies or know enough of the story who want to know how it ends for their own satisfaction. I’m fine with this. I’ve never been a skip to the end of the book kind of girl, but that’s because for me what good is the ending if you have no idea about the journey to get there. The people who find out this information and feel it is their duty to spread it as quickly as possible, thereby ruining the enjoyment of people who do want to take the journey themselves, really, really anger me.
Two years ago, after the sixth book came out, one of my seniors was talking rather loudly about the ending. She wanted to make a purse to carry around school that proclaimed which character had died. She thought it would be really funny, especially when she went over to the middle school. I told her I couldn’t keep her from making it, but if she brought it into my classroom, I would throw it away. I know, not exactly professional, but it infuriated me. She didn’t care about the books; that’s fine. But the fact that she wanted to ruin the books for those who did care was beyond understanding to me. Why destroy something people love for no other reason than to destroy it?
As a kid I moved around a lot. In the 13 years I was in school (K-12), I went to nine different schools. I was pudgy. I had bright red Sally Jessie glasses. I wore Goodwill clothes. I lived in dodgy apartments. I was smart and liked by teachers. And, I was the new kid for nine years. Mary Poppins comforted me when my parents fought over the phone in fourth grade. Anne breaking a slate over the head of Gilbert made the taunting of the boys easier to take at sixth grade camp. Meg, Joe, Amy and Beth helped me to transition into junior high school. This is why Harry and his friends are so beloved to me and why people sending out emails with his fate in it, before the books even hit the store infuriates me. Why take that love away from people, whether they are five, ninety-five or anywhere else in between?
Some kids won’t be able to afford the books right away and will have to wait for the library copies to come available. Some have only just started the series, some are too young for it yet, but will discover it in years to come. It angers me that malicious people seek to destroy this little bit of magic in a world that could really use some. I know to many it may seem silly to get all worked up over someone revealing the fate of characters in a book or the fate of the characters themselves, but I love books and I want others to be allowed to love them too.