It Had to End Sometime

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Well, I finished it. And I don’t think it will spoil any of the plot if I confess to you that my rapt adoration of Neville Longbottom continues unabated.

In case you haven’t realized it, I am talking (as is almost everyone around me) about the long awaited Book 7 of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Paul and I are big fans.

We bought the book early on Saturday morning at Target (where he had long ago reserved me a copy as a surprise), and we spent the morning reading it aloud to each other, taking turns with the chapters. Lying on the couch with my head back, listening to Paul’s voice weave the words of the story before my mind’s eye, I remembered again the childhood joy of having books read aloud. It was fun, experiencing the twists of the plot together and stopping every now and then to discuss our new theories or to gasp over some shock. After about 130 pages, we put the book aside to take the kids to the mall, and when we returned, I picked it up again and continued reading, solo. I finished at about eleven o’clock last night, totally spent.

Now it is Paul’s turn, and even as I type this, he’s curled up reading in bed. With every swish of a turned page, I wonder what part he is up to now, and mentally I urge him to hurry, keen to have someone with whom to share all the chuckles and exclamations and tears I held back as I was reading, trying not to ruin the ending for him.

Nor will I ruin it for you.

Instead, I’ll tell you about the fun I had Friday night, when I showed up at Hastings’ Harry Potter Launch Party to take in the sights with my friends Marci and Amelia (a.k.a. Luna Lovegood—note The Quibbler tucked under her arm.)

Butterbeer flowed freely, and boxes of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans lined the store shelves, waiting for the brave-hearted, iron-stomached few. Everywhere you looked, children and adults in black robes and various magical accessories lined the aisles and flew haphazardly around the store, awaiting the chime of midnight and the chance to finally hold the last Harry Potter novel in their anxious hands.

Several celebrities attended. Harry himself was there, of course, although he kept changing sizes and ages and his scar itself seemed now made of silvery eyeshadow and now drawn on with a purple marker. I managed to snap a quick picture of him as he flew past.

Ron was also there, although his rat, Scabbers, had definitely seen better days. Apparently, someone had transfigured it into a rubber replica, and he was swinging it around in a most careless manner.

Characteristically, Hermione alone seemed to stand calmly on the sidelines, and very graciously allowed me to photograph her. I’m not sure why the photograph isn’t moving. Perhaps Canon hasn’t yet mastered the technology required for proper magical photos?

At any rate, the crowd was happily busy discussing their theories and questions as the minutes ticked away to the official release time. Who is R.A.B? Is Harry going to die? Which side is Snape on? And now that J.K. Rowling has enough money to buy her own country, what will she name it?Speaking of questions, my friend Amelia—I mean…uhh…Luna—is very good at Harry Potter trivia, one of the contests being offered to those waiting in line. She won enough temporary tattoos of Harry’s famous lightning bolt scar to start her own Harry Potter impersonator school. I, however, missed four or five questions before Amelia took pity on me and just gave me one of her prizes to stop me trying again.

Though I left before the magic moment (planning to buy my book later, remember), I’m so glad I was there to witness the glorious hubbub. It was entertaining to take part in such a landmark pop culture event, and to pause for a moment to celebrate the skills of an author whose fantasy world drew so many back to the joy of reading for pleasure.

Even if it did turn out that Darth Vader was Harry’s father all along.

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22 responses »

  1. Confession time. I have not read the Harry Potter books. (I can almost hear the gasp of disbelief that just came out of your mouth.) I know, I know… despicable! 🙂 I would honestly much rather curl up with a good mystery than a fantasy, but all the hype has me interested. I saw the first two movies, but I imagine the books would be much better. Maybe someday….

  2. Know what, Sarah Jane? Me neither. Not hte movies either. Yep, I heard the gasp from here. It sounds like you enjoyed reading it, though! I love the idea of reading to each other. I’ve done that with friends sometimes, and yeah, it’s like being a kid again! 🙂

  3. Well, I thought that the Darth Vader part was an interesting twist… but you know, it’s so been done before. I had kind of expected JK to come up with something better than that 🙂

  4. My Harry Potter post is sooo different from yours. But I’m glad you liked the book. And thanks for telling me what happened at the end since you know I won’t read it.

  5. To those who have not read the books…do start!

    I was content with the movies until peer pressure set in and I was talked into trying just one book. I had a copy of the Sorcerer’s Stone at home so I found some quiet time and opened it up. That was this past Friday. I’m now halfway through the 2nd book.

    The movies make so much more sense now.

  6. Katrina-
    I finished it this morning at 1 a.m. No spoilers here for any other readers, but I thoroughly enjoyed every blissful second of it.

    I felt like got to partake of a sumptuous banquet and left the table more than satisfied.

  7. I believe I’m single because you and Paul have such a cool marriage, I’m waiting for my own Paul! Wow, reading to each other…I love it!

    I haven’t read the Potter books (gasps all around) but I plan to. I may even listen to them audiobook to have someone read them to me. 🙂

  8. I finished the book at 11:30 last night. Paul needs to hurry up and finish so we can sit discussing in whispers as not to spoil it for those in the office who haven’t finished. I loved the book! By far my favorite. I laughed and cried, was shocked and relieved. I am in awe of JK Rowling. She is a great writer. Some would disagree but look at what she has accomplished. The creation of a world that will last for many more years to come. Wasn’t the last part the best? I had hoped it would end that way.
    Melissa

  9. I do not understand the flurry surrounding Potter but I do love how it brings people, families in particular, together. Especially these days with all the gadgets and electronics, a good read is what I hope humanity never loses touch with.

    Perhaps one day I will begin to read the HP series to my girls.

    QUESTION: I’ve heard so many conservative Christians speak against these books. Your thoughts?

  10. Jenn–great question! For my part, if I hadn’t caught wind of all the Christian “controversy” around Harry Potter from the media, it would never have occurred to me to think it objectionable at all. Certainly it’s dark in parts, and otherworldly, and magical, but no more so than a lot of other fantasy books, including our beloved Lord of the Rings, lauded by many Christians as one of the great Christian allegories of all time.

    And as someone who has read all of the Harry Potter books, what really surprises me is that more Christians don’t embrace the themes within the series. The persistent message, as I see it, is that love and selflessness will always overcome evil in the end, an idea with which Christians are very familiar. And though the comparative qualities of the works can (and will) be debated, Harry Potter, as a character, has joined the ranks of Frodo, Paul Atreides, King Arthur, and Aslan, among others, to demonstrate the pervasiveness of messianic themes throughout literature.

    The main objection some believers raise to Harry Potter is that it somehow glorifies or encourages the practice of witchcraft in the real world. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I see as little connection to reality in the fantasy world that Rowling has created as I do in Lewis Carroll’s Looking Glass World, or Narnia, or Oz. I’d be very comfortable with my children visiting that world between the pages of a book.

    When I was reading the memoirs of C.S. Lewis, one thing that really stood out to me was the way in which he felt that God was tugging on his heart through the strings of fantasy literature, at a time when, as a devout atheist, he had closed off his mind to all other avenues of logic and truth. I share Lewis’ belief that the longing that we feel to live in another world and to take part in a bigger story are echoes within us of the real adventure that God is calling us to, and the real home that he has made for us beyond this world.

    And I see nothing wrong with that. 🙂

  11. for some reason my previous comment didn’t seem to save or something…
    I devoured the book in mere hours. I love reading aloud and all that, but when it comes to HP I don’t have the discipline or patience.

    more that anything, i can’t believe it’s all over. I’ve finished every book with an excitement for the next installment …. but alas, the end HAS come.

    As for the christian controversy … i am in the same boat as you. I read the books before i ever heard anything from anyone about them, and found them quite moral. I guess the biggest issue (according to an article in Time) is the lack of a diety. The strength/power comes from mere humans. Personally, I see that the strength comes from the power of love and friendship and that seems to be a pretty Jesus-like thing to me.

    Anyhow – I’m glad you enjoyed the book!!!

  12. Excellent response to my question. Very interesting view and so very true about Lord of the Rings (which I adore) and Narnia (also complete adoration!).

    Next question: What age is appropriate for children to understand and not fear HP?

  13. Ahh, the question of age appropriateness is perhaps a little more difficult to answer. I suppose it depends on the individual child and what standards a parent has already laid down in regards to content in other books and movies.

    One dilemma with the HP books is that the writing and the subject matter gets progressively more sophisticated as the series progresses, a device that was unique and well suited to the original fans of the series, who in essence “grew up” with Harry and aged in understanding and perception as the books were gradually released. Now that they are all available at once, though, it is more obvious that there is a wide discrepancy between the whimsical storyline and fantastical scares of “The Sorcerer’s Stone” and the more complex wrestling with issues of life and death, fear and courage, betrayal and forgiveness, and good and evil that is present in later volumes.

    My parents never put any limitations on what I read, and, within reason, I intend to emulate their example (obvious exceptions being pornography, “How To Build a Bomb” type books, and other wildly inappropriate material.) Though Katie (8) has not, as yet, shown any interest in the Harry Potter books or movies, I imagine she will get around to them in her own time and at her own pace. What I’m most concerned with is fostering an atmosphere of open discussion so that when new ideas and questions are presented to her, she feels comfortable bringing them to us so we can talk about them together.

    Sorry not to give an exact answer to your question; I guess the answer is a firm “It depends.” LOL!

  14. I love the ending to this post! Too funny!

    I’m one of your readers who hasn’t read the HP books, but I think I’ll do it someday. Not sure when, but eventually.

    And maybe I’m completely clueless, but I never heard before the quote you referred to from C.S. Lewis (“… the longing that we feel to live in another world and to take part in a bigger story are echoes within us of the real adventure that God is calling us to, and the real home that he has made for us beyond this world.”). I loved that quote! What an awesome thought!

  15. We just started reading it yesterday. My husband and I are reading it to each other so we will finish at the same time. I’m a big fan of neville…and I want him to finally be able to be the hero…I’m looking forward to finding out how it happens…

  16. Hey Katrina, long time no see. We’ve been busy. Great post and comments! Thanks for not giving anything away. I wanted to reread the books before reading the final one, and I am still working on Number 5. I got behind schedule! Hoping to finish it up in the next day or so, though, and go see the movie. Then I’ll tackle the next two. I’m glad to hear you liked it.

  17. Katrina,
    I forgot to add that even though my interests don’t really include Harry Potter, Andrew has already finished the first two books. He wanted to keep reading, but my Mom said the third book (or maybe it was the fourth?) got a little bit dark for his age and that maybe he should wait a year or two. What do you think?

  18. I am a HP nerd. I haven’t read a one. Every summer I tell my students I will get caught up… alas stuff gets in the way. It sounds like I would enjoy them.

  19. Hey! I just got this book called “Finding God in Harry Potter.” Thus far it’s pretty good. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, but I think it’s pretty neat, especially the connections in makes with other (christian) literary works and all that. It’s not ALL new, but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who notices these things. I think you might enjoy it.

  20. I just now came back to this post. In spite of the opening comment of promising not to ruin anything, I couldn’t make myself take the risk! I finally got the book (I was one of several hundred in line at the library, and finished it a few minutes ago.)
    Wonderful book! Even though the loose ends were all tied up and I couldn’t have asked for a more satisfying ending, I still want there to be more! Maybe she will start a new series! A question or two for you–what do you think Dumbledore saw in the mirrow of Erised? And the pitiable thing that Harry saw in the big room–was that Voldemort without remorse?
    PS I am dying to give away every secret in the book to Jon, who has not started reading it yet!

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