Luna (and Hagrid)
This week's featured piece is by Abby Rampone, a sophomore at Fair Haven Union High School. She begins by writing about the impact that the Harry Potter books have had on her as a writer, reader, and as someone who has learned valuable lessons from the series. She ends her piece with a reflection on the film, concluding that even though the series is finished, the characters will live on with her. For more great student writing go to youngwritersproject.org
In June 2007, I was twelve years old, very nearly thirteen. I had read the first six books of the Harry Potter series a dozen times each. I was in Michigan, visiting relatives for a few weeks. And the seventh Harry Potter book was about to be released. Because we were in a metropolitan area for once, rather then a tiny Vermont town, attending the midnight release was not only possible, it was necessary. I found a black witch's hat with a green rim and used masking tape to attach blondish-white yarn all along the inside. I wore black, with striped green and black tights. I found bottle caps and wrote "Butter-beer" on them, painstakingly punched holes in them, and made a necklace. I made earrings out of enormous, radish-like red beads. I found a wand-like stick and shoved it behind one ear. I transformed a travel magazine into the latest edition of the Quibbler and carried it upside down.
My cousins and I spent the better part of a week speculating on the book's outcome. In hindsight, we were very right in some respects, but very wrong in others. My sister was absolutely convinced that a certain redheaded character was a goner. "Yep," I remember her saying, "he's the type that always dies!"
I got the book at midnight, then promptly falling asleep without having opened it.
I read most of the book during the long car drive back to Vermont, despite the fact that I got horribly carsick. I didn't have to fight for the privilege. I had my own copy of the Deathly Hallows, an early birthday present from a relative. I was enthralled by the daring escapes, disgusted by the fact that a minor character's death was considered more important than that of one my favorite characters, and was in tears at the end (actually, I cried at the end of the actual book, then proceeded to laugh hysterically at the epilogue). I think it was one of the first books that I had such an emotional reaction to.
Some things haven't changed. Ron is still my favorite of the trio. I'm still not sure if I love or hate Professor Severus Snape. I still am annoyed by house elves and I still miss Sirius and I still hate the way that some characters die in the Deathly Hallows and I still cheer when Percy comes back and whenever I get scared (of the most uncontrollable, illogical things, like I usually do), I still think of Hagrid saying, "what will come will come, and we will have to meet it when it does." That is still my favorite line in the whole series, and they are still the words that help me deal with what I am afraid of.
Harry Potter was not only my favorite series for years and years, it has made me an avid reader of fantasy. I grew up with those books. I grew up thinking of myself as Luna and getting mad at Harry for treating her in what I thought of as a friendly but condescending manner (I over-thought things, didn't I?). I thought of the characters as real. I have always thought that this was the series' biggest strength: characters that I genuinely thought could be real people. These people helped me through the most difficult things, like being shunned at school. They were there for me during the months and months when I couldn't fall asleep at night, paralyzed by illogical fears and loneliness. There are few other series that made me the fantasy addict I am today more than the Harry Potter books. My sister and I dissected those books for all their themes and messages and strengths and weaknesses, and I love them for it. These dissections have made me the reader and writer I am today. Maybe I'm too critical, but hey, I love Harry and the others for tolerating it.
Right now, I am sixteen, almost seventeen; about the age Harry was at the beginning of the last book. In the next few days, I will go to see the film of the final book with some friends and I will laugh and dissect it and get mad at things added and things left out and hate the actors and love the actors and cry at the end and probably laugh at the epilogue, just like I've always done. I will still cheer for my favorite characters (especially Neville), I will still want to go to Hogwarts, and honestly, I still don't care what they do to the movie as long as Molly gets to kill Bellatrix. Although it would be nice if they gave Luna lots of attention and didn't leave a moment of the final battles out and gave Lupin (always one of my favorites) the respect he deserves.
It is really a shock to realize that this really is the end, sort of. So I have to say thanks, Hagrid. Thank you for breaking down that door on a little island in the ocean and bringing these stories to me. I'll be waving when I see you in the movie later. And thanks, Luna. I think it's your fault that I wear such interesting earrings. I really now want to go find the ones I made that were shaped like some kind of radish-plums. Thank you for the theories and crazy plots and understanding. Thank you. And you know, I really think that it's thanks to all of you that I learned that I don't have to be lonely anymore.
After seeing the last movie...
The movie was brilliant. The movies have never lived up to the books, in my opinion, but this one came close. It surprised me; I unexpectedly found the most emotional moments to be the flashbacks to Snape's childhood. It made me angry; I was frustrated by the unfairness of character deaths even though I knew they were coming. It managed to capture the tone of the book in a way that I never thought it would, it highlighted things that I'd barely acknowledged before, and it ended the series just as I thought it would: with me laughing at the epilogue.
Walking out of the theater, I thought, well, it's over. And then, of course, I went home and found my sister re-reading the third book. Again. Of course there are things I would have liked done differently in the movie. My critical side can't help thinking that. I would have liked to see Percy burst into the Room of Requirement and other characters given more attention, but I loved seeing Luna and Snape and Hagrid and, of course, Harry. Because I've known them for quite a long time, after all. And I guess it's kind of impossible to say goodbye while I still hang onto my well-read copies of the books. I'll also be coming back to these stories, because, well, they're good. And yes, it's been years since I stayed up half the night reading their adventures, but I would miss all those characters quite a bit if I never visited them again.