Do you know about my long-standing nemisis with this man?
It’s an old, Snape-like grudge, and it goes like this:
Wayyyy back in 2001 or some such inconsequential Muggle date, I hit the backcountry for three weeks with one–ONE–novel in tow. The plan was to read and swap as my backpacking buddies finished their picks. Caught up in the madness that was–is…has it ever gone away?–I scooped up HP and the Chamber of Secrets. Book Two.
Picture this: glorious treks over King’s Canyon peaks, meadows of wildflowers in a California spring, MREs brought to life with just a splash of boiling water. Me, tucked in my down sleeping bag, headlamp blazing, ready to be entertained. Nights of reading lay ahead.
If only someone had told me that number two was the worst of them all. That it would be mindless drivel without the context and set-up of book one. If only someone had shaken me and shouted, “Linsey! Go! Find The Sorcerer’s Stone! You must start there! Checking your emergency kit can wait–GO!”
I think I wept in my tent for lack of inspiring reading material. There were some pages torn, some curse words slung. No one would trade books with me after I bitched so fervently about “that boy and his stupid magic.” Sophomoric. Uninspired. Insipid. A waste of pack space.
A decade later, a gaggle of students are beyond convinced that I have missed the window into their generation. (I suppose it would be like one of my teachers not falling prey to Beverly Hills, 90210. Or My So-Called Life.) My classroom becomes a Potter Room, with allusions flying like Quidditch brooms lost on me like the Golden Snitch lost on the blind. Vocab skits are Potter-based, Christmas ornaments are Potter-themed. The entire seven-book-series is bestowed upon me. I have no choice. I am almost in tears. Every cell in my body threatens a rash. I could not bring myself to do it. And yet…they made me promise.
I recant. There. I said it. After years of bitching about the mislaid mystique of Harry Potter and of holding a grudge against JK Rowling for leaving me in the forest without a decent book to read, I have come to my senses. I could not put the book down. I even considered violating a very serious pact I have with myself: to go to school during break to pick up the next book. The dreaded Book Two. (Cue horror music.)
Here’s the thing, though: JK Rowling weaves a very compelling story–at least in Book One. Harry is sympathetic; Snape, Voldemort, and the Dursleys are all repulsive, and the magical realism makes me suspend my disbelief. In fact, I was downright shocked at the twist at the end of the book. And Rowling leaves just enough threads unwoven at the end that I am eager to keep reading. I mean, Voldemort is going to grow from his baby-snake head-perching status, right? And the unicorns…they come back, right? RIGHT?
Needless to say, I am preparing myself for a long affair with books two through seven, even if I have flashbacks to that long, unentertaining backpacking trip. Cause really, if Harry can lure Fluffy to sleep and fend off Quirrell while being half-conscious, don’t I owe it to him to read on?
Plus, I got a round of applause for announcing today that I was officially on Team Gryffindor. And the Sorting Hat told me, after all these years, that it is where I belong.