I spent the weekend with Harry Potter.
It's now been five days since the release of the seventh and final book in the series author J.K. Rowling began in a Scotland coffee shop more than 10 years ago.
Rumors have long swirled regarding who dies. (Rowling promised prior to the book's midnight July 21 release two main characters would meet their demise). People who purported to have the inside track posted on YouTube a video of them "reading" book seven prior to its release. Internet sites boasted "spoilers" from people claiming to have had it all figured out. (None of them, by the way, were even close).
For those of you not caught up in the Potter craze let me put their actions into perspective.
Say you missed the Super Bowl and you NEVER miss the Super Bowl, but your wife was giving birth so you had to miss it this one time, but you recorded it to catch as soon as she gave you the OK to go home. But just as you were leaving the hospital, some IDIOT yells out of his car in the parking lot "The Chiefs beat the Raiders 28-0."
Again, this is just a for instance, but being from Kansas City, this is the first example that comes to mind.
Potter fans have waited since the 1998 U.S. release of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" to see how Harry fares in his inevitable battle with the evil Lord Volde.... um, He Who Shall Not Be Named. People who don't know a Hufflepuff from a Ravenclaw should not be able to ruin that for them.
This includes newspapers so I, having finished the book 28 hours after my mailman dropped it at my house Saturday afternoon, (I had to sleep) will not spoil the outcome for fans who've waited patiently for so long.
This belief was not held, however, by some newspapers that chose to do reviews of the book - in some cases three days before its release. Admitting it'd gotten ahold of the book by mistake, one newspaper did a review that appeared in its July 18 edition that answers the big question of whether Harry was one of those "main characters" Rowling spoke of.
I will admit that I didn't understand the hooplah of the series back in July 1999, by which time two of the books had been published. It was on a trip from my then home of Marianna, Fla., to Kansas City, Mo., that I was introduced to the series. I was sharing a row of seats with another woman, she was probably in her 30s, and a young girl of 12 who was traveling alone. The older woman struck up a conversation with the young girl who was reading the second book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." The two were discussing the book very excitedly. When the young girl got off the plane and the woman and I waited for our layover, I asked her, "Have you really read those books or were you just making conversation?"
The woman proceeded to tell me the series had been the only thing that had occupied her time over the past year or so. The tale of the wizard and his friends enabled her to relax, escape reality and use her imagination. Still skeptical, I asked more questions, soon learning what she needed to relax and escape from was the hospital room she'd been in for several months, at the bedside of her terminally ill father.
When our plane landed, I went to the nearest bookstore and bought the first book. Before I boarded the return flight from Kansas City to Florida, I'd read it and had bought the second, and another copy of the first for my little brother. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait long for the third book, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," released in September 1999.
There is a sort of magic in Rowling's writing that can't be explained unless you actually read the books. I'm not going to argue whether the tales are appropriate for kids - that's up to a parent to decide. I will say I've been able to read all of them without putting a hex on anyone. I will also say any book that can hold my little brother's interest (he also hasn't cursed anyone I know of) for 896 pages (as in the case of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"), can't be all bad.
Enjoy the final ride, fans. Ms. Rowling, thank you for introducing me to The Boy Who Lived. I get it ... that message you want people to get from reading your books? Good over evil, love conquers all, if you believe in something, fight for it, true friends stick together through thick and thin? I get it.
And you muggles who want to spoil the fun? Well, in my opinion, you ought to do time in Azkaban.
Judy Green is county editor at the Gwinnett Daily Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.