Dear Mr. Potter,
I am writing this as a contribution to a conference blog about you. A conference! About you! Who would have thought when I started reading about magic and Muggles, broomsticks and spells, Quidditch and dragons that so much of my work and thinking would be affected by you and your story? But the years have flown very fast, and it has been a crescendo of excitement and attachment to everything about you, Mr. Potter.
At first, I was charmed by that very special type of attention to detail that often signals a job well done, by the humour and irony in the lines of your story and the pull of a universe full of wonder and surprise. As the tale grew more intricate and deep, I actually could not bear to leave it. I should have guessed that your story would take me to depths I could not imagine long before, when in the very first book I read about a child character confronting loss, despair and the irrevocability of death. Even that beginning had little of the innocence of a children's book - but it had all the makings of a great book, one of those that speak to all ages, to all ways of life.
At different moments in life, we have all felt he pain of unrequited love, the sting of loss and jealousy, the jolt of fear, the tug of solitude, anger, despair. We have all experienced the warmth of friendship and passion, the strength of belonging, the embracing balminess of hope and courage. In your story, all these very human things are told to us through unforgettable and complex characters, memorable places and vivid language. Just to take my favourite book of the 7, the "Half Blood Prince", every time I cannot help but weep at Slughorn's remorse and fear, Snape's icy desperation, Dumbledore's steeliness, Ginny's strength, Harry's jealousy, Ron's smugness, Hermione's pride. Anyone and everyone can recognise themselves in your story, with all their qualities and flaws.
I discovered soon that I wasn't the only adult woman eagerly waiting for the next book release when I joined the online groups discussing the books, and the wonderfully excited waiting lines in front of bookshops at Midnight. Everyone was in those queues: from grannies wearing wooly caps to toddlers with marker-drawn scars on their foreheads, everyone talking, discussing predictions, laughing at some crazy theory, hugging the book on the way out of the shop.
Each of those millions of people have different reasons to love you and to have made you part of their life. If I have to pick the one fundamental reason that made me do it, I think that it is the overall message that your story tells about the power of human choice: no one is truly a predestinate, even prophecies are made real only by human acts, people have to live with the consequences of their actions, and, in the end, what triumphs is the strength of heart that it takes to make such important decisions for oneself. "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities" says my favourite character in a famous passage. To me, Mr. Potter, it is this deeply human character that makes your story precious and meaningful. I do treasure my knowledge of it as I treasure a friend, or a memorable moment, or a beloved place: it will stay with me forever and remind me of the power of human imagination and will.
(and of course you can tell I'm a Ravenclaw)
Dear Mr. Potter,
To say that we have been on a journey together, would truly under estimate the time we have spent together. Growing up with you, I feel like I know you as well as I know myself. I regret the time, the months you spent on my shelf, gathering dust because to the 10 year old me, wizards just weren’t cool enough. But you waited patiently for me to finally give in to the draw of your front cover, the curiosity of where that train went. And where didn’t it take us.
I have always said, I feel nothing but pity for those pessimists who refuse to read you, because you are ‘just a kid’s series’. Even more so, I pity those who have stepped so far away from their childhood, from the excitement of imagination, the thrill that magic could, even just for those moments, be real. They couldn’t believe it, and they couldn’t enjoy you, and gave up after one or two books. I feel so sorry for them. How could anyone get so far from the children they were? Didn’t they, like I, declare that they never wanted to grow up? Didn’t they follow Peter Pan to Neverland, chase the rabbit down the rabbit hole, discover the chocolate factory and, wait with baited breath on their 11th birthday, for the owl to bring their Hogwarts letter?
I am a Slytherin. Proudly, I recognise my ambition as being my most defining quality, as well as the importance of friendship. I recognize we probably wouldn’t have been friends for that reason, but I would have been a good few years behind you in school anyway.
I have cheered you on, been nervous for you, sympathised with you, mourned with you, prayed for you, feared for you, in ways I have never felt for the real people in my life. You have transcended the barriers between fiction and real, and the loss and joy you felt, was felt by me on with every turn of the page.
Just like I have been there with you, through the dark times of your life, you have been there with me through the dark times of mine. The tear blots on the pages are partly from your story, partly from mine. It was wonderful, to escape into that world, when the Muggle world was too hard, and reality too sharp to face alone.
The waiting was always the best part. The wonder of what ‘might’ happen. Holding on to every news article, every snippet of information. Terror that something might happen, that you might not get finished. And then, to stand for hours in the rain, surrounded by others, who like me, could not wait a second more than they had to. And the conflict. The rush to finish, without wanting it to end.
Dear Mr. Potter, you have changed my life, given me the power to hold onto my youth, and a desire to create for other children what you created for me. There is no better gift then that for me. Thank you so much.
Gráinne O’Brien, age 24.