Friday evening, Andrew and I were invited to dinner at our pastor's home. Deep into the grilled chicken, homemade bread, and fruit salad, and at some point after his daughter laughed so hard she spewed milk across the table (never seen that happen in real life before, I must say), the conversation slid comfortably into a topic that has been pounced upon and happily jawed over by millions of people worldwide since 1997.
Image via allday.today.com, artwork by Mary GrandPré, special edition cover for Deathly Hallows
(isn't it awesome?)
I confess myself a shameless addict to the scar-headed hero's story, but as Andrew and I were driving home, I wondered how it is that this story, more than any other I know, has the power to draw people together, to make a stranger say, "I love that story, too!" and laugh at a joke about a Crumple-Horned Snorkack in a way that no non-Comic-Con-attending person would about any other story, even a phenomenon like Star Wars or (God forbid) Twilight.
So, why does Harry entrance us so?
Because, dear reader, when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone first appeared in bookstores, I (and every other young-twenty now) was nine years old. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows finally reached my hands, I was a sophomore in college. Ten years of my life, from age 9 to age 19, were spent in the company of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and in countless delighted hours reading their adventures and wondering how deep J. K. Rowling was winding the mystery. Almost half of my life to date, I have not only known of Harry and his companions, but have also read of their struggles, seen them (as well as Rowling's writing) grow and mature -- as I myself was growing and maturing. You see, reader, I grew up with Harry.
I believe that the majority of Harry Potter fans in the world love Harry for this same reason. Not because of the fantasy world he lives in, not even for Rowling's brilliant storytelling and championing of true and honorable (even biblical) ideals like love and redemption, but because to us, Harry is someone we know well. We've been friends with him for ten years. We know what he would say if we asked him this or that question; we know how Ron and Hermione would react to this or othat situation. So when someone acknowledges a mutual love of the series, it's really acknowledging a mutual friend. "Hey, I know him, too!"
I love Harry Potter because I appreciate Rowling's craftsmanship, her themes, and her heart.
I also love Harry Potter because I grew up with him, cared about him, Ron, and Hermione. I've spent ten years of my life with those people, and ten years is a long time.
I like Harry because we're friends.