Monday, July 18, 2011

Traci Jo and the Epic Harry Potter Series

I thought I was gonna be all original with this whole "post after seeing the last HP movie" thing. I should've known better. In case you've been living under a rock for the past decade or so, Harry Potter is HUGE...and the last movie has now been released.

I actually cried at the 12:20 showing of the movie early Friday morning. The movie was brilliantly done, with fantastic special effects. As good as all the others were, this one tops them all. Anyone who has read the books knows just how many sad things happen in the movie (bring tissues), and I won't spoil it for those who haven't read it.

To this day, years and years later, my sister and I still argue over who introduced Harry and the gang to the family. Lemme 'splain.

For all the times I complain that my parents gave me bad genes, they also gave my brother, my sister and I some really fabulous ones when it came to brains (although my brother and I did both end up with some relatively mild learning disabilities, like processing disorders. Yay, fun.) We've always been the smart kids in class. Always. So when, her third grade year, my sister was placed in an "integrated" classroom with children who still couldn't read, she was extremely frustrated. To help out, her teacher let her read books more her level, starting with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Somewhere around this time, on the local news was a special about a book that was slowly becoming popular. My mother took us to the library every weekend, so when we next went, I was sure to check out that book. It was The Chamber of Secrets, and at the age of 11, I'd finished the book in about 36 hours.

Whichever one of us introduced the books to the family, it soon became a family tradition for Mom to read us about a chapter every night. My brother, who was seven at the time, really struggled with reading comprehension because of his disorder and didn't really like to read. After a few weeks of hearing these books, though, if Mom couldn't read to us for some reason, he'd drag me to my parents' room with HP in hand, plop down on their bed, and valliantly struggle through a few pages before asking me or my sister to read it to him.

This whole "family time" thing was precious to us. At that point in time, my father was in medical school and could only come home on the weekends. He was always exhausted, but he would curl up with us at night and either read or listen with us. Even during the week when he wasn't there, the Harry Potter books still made us feel connected to him, because he knew them, too.

We were so excited when we heard the movies were going to be made. I had a friend at that time who went to book premiers with me, and she and I couldn't have been more thrilled to see the drama play out on the big screne. Before she moved away, we went to all the HP events together, dressing up and everything. Thursday evening, she sent me a picture (which I'll post) and wished me a happy release day. We talked for a while about growing up with the books and how we were sad the series was through.

I didn't cry at the end of the movie or on my way home, but I did spend the time thinking; What an intricate, believable world Ms. Rowling created!! A single mom who wrote her story on paper napkins, she came from nothing and made something out of it. As far as I know, she didn't have any prior experience or writing classes, just pure, natural talent. She's an incredible inspiration for all of us aspiring authors. I can't think of a single writer who wouldn't love for their story to grow into a seven-book series that people grow up reading, and then have it play out on the big screne, and in 3D.

My take-home lesson from this whole experience is this: I no longer have a big release to look forward to from the epic series I grew up with. Therefore, it's up to me or one of my contemporaries to create the Next Big Thing. So, who will be the next J. K. Rowling?

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