Friday, August 26, 2011

And I Owe It All to a Boy Wizard

This has been a difficult post to write. I wanted my sparks to be inspirational while being books that not a lot of people had heard of. That way, they'd be inspired to try something new and moderately obscure. I didn't want to talk about Harry Potter, because at this point, everyone and their mother has read it and probably has something to say on the subject. But I really can't finish out Sparkfest without paying tribute to the Boy Who Lived. He was (and still is) such an integral part of my life, and I owe a lot of things to him and his universe.

I started reading Harry Potter with the first book. We got it out of a Scholastic book order for less than five bucks. I didn't think I was going to fall in love with it, since I was already 11 and beyond most of the middle grade stuff (read my earlier post on Dr. Seuss for info on how accelerated my reading was). Much to my own surprise, I was sucked into the magic of the story. Harry was 11 too, and he got a letter to Hogwarts. He got to experience all these things that I desperately wanted to experience: magic, adventure, and boarding school (yeah, I was weird). He also met some really funny kids, studied subjects that were way more interesting than pre-algebra and world history, and found a place where he belonged. I was desperate for more.

As Harry grew up, so did I, and I learned a lot of really important lessons from him. I learned that standing up to your friends is a lot harder than facing your enemies. I learned that the right thing to do is often the hardest. I learned that you choose your own family by surrounding yourself with people who matter, and that blood ties are not always the strongest. I learned a lot about self-discovery, and that being a teenager was hard, with a lot of complicated emotions. But through all the difficulty of adolescence, I always had Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

I learned a lot about writing from Harry as well. I learned that the best characters are real ones, with wants and needs and feelings. I learned that the best stories have lots of adventure and mystery and intrigue, but underneath it all they have love and relationships, because that's what makes the world go round. I learned that you don't have to go to a whole alternate universe to find magic. You can find it right in your backyard.

Last month, the Harry Potter franchise finally ended. It was bittersweet for me, as I sat there in the theater with tears streaming down my face. In the last thirty minutes of the final movie, all I could think about was the end. It was the end of 13 years of my youth, the end of one of the greatest book series of all time, the end of Harry. But really, it was only the beginning. Harry Potter gave me the tools I needed to not only be a successful writer, but a successful person. He taught me the value of good friendships, how to listen to my elders and be respectful, and the benefits of hard work.

I think of my books as close friends. They were the constants in a childhood filled with change. We moved every two to three years, and even though I lost touch with a lot of childhood friends, my books have always remained. I don't know the influence Harry Potter has had on all of you, but for me he's been one of the very best friends I've had. Even though there probably won't be any new material from Harry's universe, I fully plan on introducing my children to him at some point in the future. After all, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone else who can play Quidditch like a pro at the ripe old age of 11. ;)



  1. You know what? You might not have picked an obscure book but this spark was inspirational. If I ever get a book published and can make just one person feel like you did, I'll be happy.

  2. This is beautiful. And everything you said is so true!
    I learned about the importance of weaving mystery from Harry Potter. When you look back on the books, you don't think "mystery series," you know? But it's there constantly while you're reading them, and I think that's just brilliant. :)

  3. I love this post. The end of Harry Potter was bittersweet to me, too, but the lessons I've taken from the series will stick with me forever. Ahhhh :)

    So, I'm sorry it took me so long to get over here to your blog, but I'm glad I finally made it! I'm deathly curious about your reading skills, because I am also a freakishly fast reader. Nice to meet you!

  4. Hello, J! What a wonderful dedication to the magic of Harry Potter. Those books influenced a lot of people of all ages. I remember getting it from my school's library in 7th grade. I read it that night and passed it on to my family and friends. We were hooked!

    I love re-reading my favorite childhood books. I think I appreciate them more now than I did when I was a kid. There's something special and irreplaceable about the favorite books you read as a child!

  5. What a beautiful tribute to Harry Potter. I love those books so much. And I thought I'd say hello! Fellow campaigner here! ;) I didn't see a follow button on your sidebar, so I'll be back! :D

  6. Campaigner, Yay! I love this post. I am about to leave and go see the last movie, and I know I'm going to cry. It's so wonderful that were able to have Harry and his friends as companions growing up ;0)

  7. I felt like Harry Potter ended for me when the 7th book came out. I went to all the movies several times, but they just weren't the same experience.

    Still, those books had an incredible impact on me. My best friend and I even had a version of quidditch that we played on rollerskates


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