I’ve just finished re-reading the Harry Potter series. I was determined to take my time and really enjoy the story. I did pretty well with the first three books or so – I’ve read them a number of times and it was fun to notice the introduction of characters that I knew would become significant later on. But as the books got more complex and the story lines became more mature, I found that I just wanted to read as fast as I could! Last night I could not stop reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I knew I would want to be able to read it today, but I kept thinking, “I can’t stop here!” Last time I read the series, I ended up re-reading the last three books of the series because I raced through them and felt like I had missed too much. This time, I really tried to slow myself down and even stop and picture scenes. Still, I kept up a pretty quick pace.
Things I love about the series:
- The writing changes from book to book, reflecting the growing maturity of the characters. The story lines get more complex, the language is more mature, the conflicts are more realistic.
- The characters are three-dimensional. There is no character wholly good, and even the most evil of characters do illicit a bit of pity.
- There’s a good bit of humor in the series – even in the most dire of circumstances, there are laughs.
- The world of Harry Potter is so imaginative. The pictures I get in my head as I’m reading are just fun.
- While there are great tragedies in this series and so many losses for Harry, in particular, there are also happy endings. And I think this is fitting – there are rewards for making the right choices, even as there are sacrifices.
- The exploration of choice is particularly wide and varied. From the very beginning when Harry hopes to be Gryffindor and wonders if he should really be Slytherin, Ms. Rowling points out again and again that it isn’t fate that makes us what we are, it’s our choices. Over and over again, Harry is encouraged to choose – even Dumbledore who can see further along than any of them, refuses to force but tries to give Harry the tools he needs to choose, trusting in Harry’s own character to bring him to the right choices.
- The way friendship is valued and tested and how it makes all the difference. From the battle with the troll which cements the relationship of Harry, Ron, and Hermoine to the formation of the D.A. and the friendships that spring up there, those relationships are essential to the storyline but also to all the good feelings in the series. While Harry feels all alone in his unique role, his friends prove, again and again, that he’s not alone and that their support makes his task possible.
- The adults in the story are fallible – and Harry survives his knowledge of that! Harry loves Sirius and Lupin as the last connection that he has with his parents, but both men have been marked by tragedy and though they do their best for Harry, Ms. Rowling isn’t afraid to show their flaws. Sirius has never really had a normal adult life and I felt such sympathy for his experiences and losses.
I could go on and on (and really, I already have!) but there’s so much to say and so many things that I have been thinking about. As a series for youth, Harry Potter is ambitious, but it succeeds on so many levels. Here’s to another re-read in a few years or so … Now for the movies!!