Today is September 1, which in the world of Harry Potter means it’s not only Back to Hogwarts day, but also 19 Years Later Day! You know, the epilogue of Deathly Hallows where the kids are all about to leave for school – that was this morning. There were crazy crowds in King’s Cross this morning with everyone trying to get pictures of Platform 9 ¾. I have to go through the station this evening, so I’ll definitely be taking some pics.
I have to admit though, I became obsessed with Harry Potter a bit late.
Like… last year.
When the books and movies were first coming out, my brother and I weren’t really allowed to read/watch them, thanks to a lot of unfounded criticism about a series based on “witchcraft.” Fortunately my parents finally decided that we were mature enough to watch the movies without you know, turning into witches, so we watched the first three movies in one day at my cousin’s house. I’m pretty sure I was thinking in a British accent by the end of it. Goblet of Fire was in theaters at the time, so my aunt took us to see it.
My brother was hooked immediately. While I liked the movies enough to see the rest on opening day, I only made it halfway through reading Prisoner of Azkaban before giving up. Unfortunately I was a foolish teen who preferred the ridiculous romance of the poorly written Twilight series over a story filled with brave characters, incredible detail, and a storyline full of joy and heartbreak.
I was an idiot.
But last year I finally read the whole series – in about a month – and absolutely loved it. I laughed a lot and I cried a lot. I already want to read it again (partially due to the GORGEOUS set of books I got for Christmas). I’ve apologized to my brother for not loving it sooner and he’s admitted that he probably would have loved me more if I had. I’ve visited the Warner Brothers Harry Potter tour twice and gotten emotional both times. Even though it took me a while to love it as much as I do now, I still love it THAT MUCH.
Because what an incredible story. There’s so much depth and detail; so many life lessons to be learned.
But my favorite thing about the series is the complexity of the characters.
Our heroes have flaws. Harry can be whiny and moody (I mean understandably so but still). Ron can be a bit dense. Hermione can be a little bit of a know-it-all (although I stand by the statement that without her, Harry Potter would never have succeeded at anything).
We don’t see them as perfect champions, but rather as flawed humans who have to make brave, difficult decisions. Even several of the “villain” characters have moments where they ultimately do the right thing.
It reminds us that our mistakes don’t define us; that we are always capable of changing and making the right decision. It reminds us to give grace to others, because maybe we know about the bad things they’ve done but not all the good (looking at you, Snape). It reminds us that it’s not about whether you’re naturally a “good person” but whether you have the courage to do what’s right even when it’s hard, even when you’ve messed up before.
As J.K. Rowling herself wrote:
“The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”
So here’s to Harry Potter for teaching us those lessons. I may not want to have kids for a while, but I already can’t wait to read Harry’s story to them when I do.