Monday, July 23, 2012

Slice of Life - Reflecting on the love of a favorite book

 Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.

I spent the day today grieving. No, I had not lost someone I loved, more like something. That makes it sound more dramatic than need be, but I have a feeling some of you might understand.

In the summer of 1999 I was twenty-five. I was teaching in a tiny town, not in my current school district, yet. I was on summer vacation and remember that I was watching The Rosie O’Donnell Show. She talked about an upcoming book release, the third in a series called “Harry Potter”. She mentioned that she loved them as much, if not more, than her son. Somehow I had not heard of these books before. I went out and purchased the first one. Plowing through that volume, I purchased the next two immediately.

It is hard to explain how much I fell in love with this series. The character of Harry, obviously. But I loved more than him. I loved the relationships – Harry and Hagrid; Harry and the Weasley family; Harry and Dumbledore; Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I loved the setting. I loved Rowling’s message of the importance of love.

When the seventh book came out I was excited, but so sad. I finished that book with tears running down my face. I hated that it was over. So when the final movie came out last summer, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: part 2, I didn’t see it in the theater. I just couldn’t. My husband and oldest son went and loved it. Then it came out on DVD and my oldest son purchased it. It has sat in our cabinet for half of a year and I still didn’t watch it. Luke finally asked me why and I told him, I just could stand for the whole experience to be over. Once I watched that movie there would be no more to look forward to, at least where the world of Harry Potter was concerned.

Finally over vacation Luke convinced me to watch it. He, Chris, and I sat down and saw the entire movie. Just like all of the others, it was brilliant. At first, I was fine. It didn’t hit me until today. I started “Googling” interviews with the cast members. Interviews with J.K. Rowling. I ended with an interview with the major cast members and Rowling before the premiere. Rowling looked at the camera and said,

The stories we love best do live in us forever. So whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.

And that’s just it. I can always go back to Hogwarts, through my books and the movies. I was still a blubbering mess watching her interview, but knew she was right. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be thrilled if she wrote some follow up books, but for now I will survive.

As I dried my tears I thought about how much I had connected with these characters, so real that they seemed like friends. And while I loved the movies, the books were where I really disappeared into that world. This is what I want for my students. To care so deeply about a book they are moved to tears. To wait impatiently for release dates, wondering why their favorite authors can’t write faster. To grieve the loss of those characters once the series is done. I think this is something I will be sharing with my reading camp students tomorrow and my own classes this fall. What it means to fall in love with a book, an author, a character, I’m glad I know.