I wrote this editorial on the plane to New York the day I found out that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would be released on July 21, 2007. It’s been published in Cruthaim by the International School of the Americas and the North East School of the Arts Literary Magazine. It’s not the most organized, coherent, professional writing, but it’s interesting to look back on those days waiting for Deathly Hallows. When I wrote this, I couldn’t have imagined just how much my life would change in the next year.
February 1, 2007
Here we are.
After years of reading, waiting, theorizing and dreaming, we’ve arrived. The beginning of the end.
But are we really facing an end? With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows set to be released July 21, 2007, the series will grow no more, but for the readers, it will never truly end. When Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone was first published in 1997, the book became popular, but although 1997 marked the beginning of Potter publication, it hardly marked the beginning of “Potter” for most people, even for J.K. Rowling herself. Jo’s “Harry Potter” began in 1990 (when she conceived the idea on a train), mine in 1998 when my mother began reading Sorcerer’s Stone aloud every afternoon. Many other fans picked up the book much later curious about the hype, or simply on accident. Everyday, somewhere in the world dozens of people discover “Harry Potter” for the first time, and so, their journey begins.
My nine year old mind took to Harry right away. His seniority to me allowed me to view him as a role model, but he was not a glorified, unreachable figure like a superhero or film star. He was identifiable, realistic, and natural and I soon came to relate to Harry, Ron and Hermione as close friends. They were my older, alter-egos living a life of which I could only dream, yet still somehow seemed reachable; lying just beyond the barrier of platform nine and three-quarters. My fascination soon let to the discovery of the internet (which I’d previously despised, seeing it as morally inferior) where I could learn more about the books and meet others as enamored with Harry as I. By the time Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire hit shelves (and eagerly awaiting hands), I stood in line at midnight, fully obsessed and in love at my local bookshops.
A three year hiatus ensued. Harry remained frozen in time, but I aged. Movies were made, the online fandom increased by a hundred fold and just as the course of the wizarding world took a drastic change at the end of Goblet of Fire, so did ours. September 11, 2001, just over one year after we held our breath as Lord Voldemort returned to full power, evil reared its ugly head in the muggle world as well. Acts of terror, not unlike those committed by Death Eaters in Harry Potter shook our sense of security. Like Harry, many in our generation were forced into abrupt maturity during these “dark and difficult times” (as Dumbledore would say). We could no longer be ignorant and blissful.
The war slowly begins to build in Order of the Phoenix. Harry finds himself in a new chapter of life, angry, confused and full of desire to set things right. I entered high school just after the release of Order of the Phoenix, undergoing dramatic social and emotional changes, and having, like Harry, to face more complex decisions than ever before. I continued to cling to Harry for support. If he could do it, so could I. I learned how the power of love and the power of choice can conquer all. I learned that no one is truly gone; they’re just behind the veil.
In Half-Blood Prince, revelations are realized and our fearless leader leaves us. Harry has to face the rest of his journey alone. This book came about on July 16, 2005, just as I entered my junior year of high school. I started to face the reality of continuing onward alone. As an upperclassman, I become responsible for my actions. No longer could I claim naivety. I had to take life by the horns, or as Potterites would say, “grasp the broomstick by the tail”, “drink the green potion alone”, “grasp the hippogriff by the wing socket”, “destroy the horcrux”. . .ok, I’ll stop.
Now as we prepare for Harry’s final chapter in his coming of age story, I also prepare to come of age and graduate. Harry’s journey to destroy the Horcruxes and fulfill the prophecy made about him so long ago will be completed this summer; the last summer of my childhood at home. Next fall I will go off to begin a new chapter of my life just as Harry will. The past ten years of Harry Potter have connected me to an amazing community. From early theorizing on the old “Wonderful World of Harry Potter” forums to MuggleCast, to midnight parties, to making online Harry Potter loving friends from all over the world, Jo Rowling’s series has made my life magical. Our generation, “Generation HP”, if you will, is the only generation lucky enough to have these experiences. We’ve literally grown up, physically, emotionally, mentally, with Harry. Jo has given us so much more than a book: a culture, community, inspiration, guidance. While the fandom may be hitting its peak, our passion is too strong to wear thin simply because we know what happens in “the end”. Our children will read Harry Potter, their children will read it. Years from now, the world will look back at the phenomenon and envy us. We’ve had ten superlative years of theorizing, discussing, obsessing. No one else will have this. It is our treasured gift from Jo, never to be taken for granted. Still, it is not the end. There will never truly be an “end” unless we choose to treat it as such. As we all know, “It is out choices. . .that show who we are, far more than our abilities.”
I graduate part of the Class of 2007, the class of Book 7.
Congratulations Potterphiles. We’ve come of age.