I was first introduced to the Harry Potter series in 3rd grade when my teacher read it aloud to my class. Hooked instantly and too impatient to wait for the next half chapter each day, I checked out a copy from the library and finished Sorcerer’s Stone on my own in a week. And so the love for Potter began.
The series nurtured my childhood imagination. My best friend, Molly, and I played Quidditch on broomsticks in the backyard for hours, and I was so proud of my realistic-looking wand that was actually a wooden piece from a cat toy. We dressed up in bathrobes and attended classes set up in different rooms of the house. We printed out letters from Hogwarts which we found on the Internet, taped them to our stuffed animal owls, and threw them off the balcony so they’d “fly” to us.
The series brought my sister and I together. When we were younger, we got along as well as any 2 sisters could—that is to say, not well at all. However, we bonded over Harry Potter. I helped coordinate her Hogwarts-themed birthday party; then, Molly and I hid in a closet and used a voice-changing microphone to Sort each girl into one of the Four Houses. (The biggest brats were placed in Slytherin.) My sister and I drove to the local grocery shop at 11:45pm for the last 2 books’ midnight releases, and proceeded to stay up all night reading next to each other. It drove her crazy that I was a faster reader and let out audible gasps at astonishing parts.
The series comforted me after heartbreak. It became my routine to read all 7 Harry Potter books immediately following whichever break up, because it couldn’t remind me of the guy and our memories. The stories were my escape and cheered me up when I was feeling down. But seriously, that routine has been set in stone since the Heartbreak of 2008.
The series helped me cope with death. When Molly passed away 3 years ago, the whole world stopped moving and I dwelled in resentment that such a beautiful, strong young woman’s life could be taken away so unfairly. No one knew what to do say or do to ease the terrible pain, and I turned once more to my favorite series. This time, it wasn’t to escape from the suffocating sadness, but to feel the emotional security and comfort that I’ve grown to associate with the stories. Deathly Hallows taught me more about the acceptance of death than any religion, and I hold the Dumbledorean ideologies close to heart.
The series is a familiar friend. Through good times and bad, the wizarding world has been a very real part of my life. Some of us have security blankets in the form of TV shows, music, or hobbies. I have 4,224 pages of a heartwarming and imaginative tale.
So you can assume my excitement when it was announced there would be another Harry Potter story. Yes, it was going to be a play script, but I have a big enough imagination and am used to that formatting. Yes, it was technically going to be written by someone else; however, it was J.K. Rowling’s idea and she did approve this script as canon, so surely it would contain some of the old magic.
My sister coincidentally visited me the weekend of the release, which made it all the more exciting. The Baker girls were going to, once again, attend a midnight release and stay up all night reading the next generation of Harry Potter! It felt like the whole experience was meant to be.
We wore matching “I solemnly swear I am up to no good” T-shirts and were dropped off at Barnes & Noble for its midnight party (I’m so old I had to take a nap beforehand). Honestly, my sister and I were mostly just interested in picking up our preordered books and racing home to read.
And so we read. And read.
I had difficulty processing what I finished reading at 4am that Sunday morning, after closing the book and whispering into the darkness, “Did I just read a bad fan fiction?” At first, I felt like an outcast on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat because there were only rave reviews and tears of joy. It was like an identity crisis coming on because, for the very first time, I felt like I wasn’t a devoted Potter fan. That is, until I checked out Reddit and breathed a sigh of relief that I wasn’t the only one who felt like their magical world had been turned upside down, and not for the better.
I trust JK Rowling too much to believe there was no rhyme or reason (except “it was intended for play format”), but that’s honestly how this felt. For those of you who enjoyed this story—not because it emotionally reminded you of your childhood, but you truly liked this—I envy you, because I personally feel confused, hurt, and betrayed by this plot and character development (or lack thereof). I want to understand it and learn to appreciate it for the story that it is. I want to accept it as the 8th Harry Potter story, but I just can’t. It’s not fair to the original series that I cherish so dearly.
It’s taken some time for me to move on from the initial shock of reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it is a beautifully orchestrated play with extremely talented actors, and I fully intend to see the performance when it is available in the United States. It’s simply not canon (sorry, Rowling), and I’ve already returned to the comfort of the Original 7. Goblet of Fire Chapter 13 “The Triwizard Tournament” to be exact.
Thankfully, J.K. Rowling announced yesterday that a new ebook series, “Pottermore Presents,” will be released on September 6th. The 3 ebook dive deeper into the wizarding world and Hogwarts. Now that’s more my style, and I’m already hooked on Pottermore. Wanna know why? Because it’s actually canon. None of that “I’m being bossed around by Hermione Granger… and I’m mildly enjoying it”
Are you a Potterhead? And please, tell me what you thought of Cursed Child because I’ve been dying to talk about it for 2 weeks!