I wish I could get about a billion medium-sized yellow stickers that said in stark black lettering, “NOT FOR KIDS,” and place them firmly on every copy of Harry Potter books that exist in the world. And I wouldn’t do it because I didn’t want kids reading it, but instead it would warn parents that if your child isn’t mature enough to grasp the concepts and underpinnings of the series you should wait before introducing it to them. There’s nothing worse than some of the seminal books in literature going under-appreciated due to a lack of comprehension. But then again, what do I know? I’m just a fan.
Harry Potter could have been me. He’s socially awkward, wears glasses, feels out of place in his surroundings (for good reason), and realizes fairly soon after we meet him that he has a larger role to play in his society. Yes, he could have been me, if I had a magic broomstick, a cool elf named Dobby, and knew how to catch a snitch in my mouth. Oh yeah, and if I had a quirky group of friends (wait, that part I have covered) who do more for me than I do for them, and they know it.
And for all the accolades he gets, for all the readers who have gotten to know and revere him, he’s still relatively down to earth, except when he’s fighting dementors, Voldemort himself, or teenage acne. Of course he does have that massive crush on Hermione (and who would blame him?) and his parents died when he was young, and the prophecy and all, but he deals with it all pretty well. You know, except for the Hermione bit, but I can see them getting together after Ron dies. (Just kidding, people.)
I love Harry Potter because he’s not the best at pretty much anything. Hermione is better with potions. Draco bests him at magic. Snape is a better legilimens. Even the Weasley twins beat Harry when it comes to practical jokes. But he’s the chosen one, and he uses his wits to get by, even when his wits also get him caught up in difficult situations in the first place. When it counts he gets the job done. He’s as reliable as that super glue that holds that man’s in the hard hat suspended in mid-air in those old commercials. It’s not always pretty, but he gets it done.
Oh, and I would place those stickers on the books because too many kids who aren’t ready for everything that the world of Harry Potter entails are given short shrift by reading the books too early. I am glad I got into Harry Potter as an adult because the entendre is clear, the portents are deadly, and the understanding of the infinite possibilities is a profound process that I can “get.” And that magic, oh that magic.
Harry grows up right before our eyes over the course of the eight novels, and each book gets darker in scope because we get closer to the showdown between good and evil. However, it’s not always in black and white terms. Characters like Sirious Black and Severus Snape keep us guessing, which is a good thing because in the real world those lines aren’t always so thickly drawn either. Yes, as Harry grows up the stakes become higher, the magic becomes stronger, and the fight becomes more powerfully waged. On all sides.
I love Harry Potter because even though he doesn’t know everything, and what to do at every moment, he understands that, and seeks out those who can assist him. Whether it’s Neville, or Luna, Moaning Myrtle, or even Dobby, Harry somehow manages to contact the right individual at the right time to make a difference. Sometimes the smartest people are those who realize they need help to accomplish their goals, or in Harry’s case, in order to save the world.
And yeah, I would love to save the world someday, too. In my own books.