Monday, July 18, 2005

Harry Potter and a happy ending

Well, there’s been one thing on my mind this weekend, and it’s Harry Potter.

We got the newest book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, at 2pm on Saturday from Amazon, two days ahead of schedule. (Yay, Amazon!) And then my son graciously allowed me to be the first to read it, as he had some outdoor plans that day.

So I read it basically straight through to late evening. Took about eight hours, but it’s now a tradition at my house to read Harry Potter books straight through once you get your hands on them.

I have to admit to being quite let down by the ending. In fact, depressed. Without giving anything away (I hope), a very favorite character is no longer with us, and another character whom I had high hopes for is the one that did the other character in. And Harry now has to face his future alone.

My heart goes out to all the kids out there, faced with this stark ending. My son’s reaction when he got to that place in the book last night was astonishment and even a few tears. Multiply this by the millions of kids who got the book over the weekend, and to me it goes beyond mere fictional angst. There’s going to be a lot of upset kids out there this week. Instant messaging and teen weblogs are already buzzing from what I can see.

So what’s a message we can give to comfort the kids? The message of the book is clearly that Harry, who is the “Chosen One,” is being set up to go it alone. He has to face what’s ahead on his own strength and merits (although there are still close friends who vow to stick by him).

Harry’s short life has included one loss after another. Many people sacrifice their lives for him so he can go on, which is noble, yet he has to lose them in the process.

So maybe one point we can make to our kids is, This is fiction, a story, made up out of one person’s mind. In real life, you’re never abandoned, never alone. In reality, there is no abandonment, for there is a divine Parent we can all count on.

While I can’t speak to the universe in J.K. Rowling’s mind or what principles she believes governs it, I can speak with more authority on our own universe. Inspiration, faith and understanding have led humanity to discover that Spirit governs. The one God, discovered by Abraham, followed by Jacob, celebrated by David, embodied by Jesus, explained by Mary Baker Eddy, is not fiction. God is good, and protects those who serve Him. Useless, random death is not a part of His plan. And kids can count on that.

I’ve been a devotee of Harry Potter since the beginning, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of the unfolding story -- up until the last few pages. My hopes for the final book are that redemption and victory will be the final word for all the characters.

To her credit, in Rowling’s latest there is a strong emphasis on love as the one thing Harry has that his enemies don’t. This is also a theme we can build on to comfort young readers. Love is more powerful than hate. Victory is always on the side of Love.

In their own lives, as in Harry Potter, real children in today's world can be witnesses to how Love gives every story a happy ending.

No power can withstand divine Love.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 7/19/2005 10:42:00 AM, Blogger Laura said...

from my friend Leslie, in a longer email:

...And about Harry Potter. . .my 17-year-old had NO problem with what happened in the book. I told her of your reaction (on your blog) and she said it may be an age thing--for kids, such as her, who have read each book as it came out and have grown up with the people, so to speak, she felt that the death was entirely inevitable. ("We all knew it just had to happen," she said.) She felt, though, that younger kids, who read each book when they've finished the previous installment, without the benefit of a year or two's growth/maturation in between each, would find it disturbing. I don't know if that helps, but in reference to you wondering why the author would do this to a character, remember that she, too, has progressed with them since long before any of her 17-18-year-old fans even read the first word. So she's not viewing the series/characters/plot from the point of view of a 10-13 year old, she's got a much longer perspective. One could make the case that she should be cognizant of her younger readers, but I don't know that that's her goal--the plot evolves over time and Harry's maturation, after all. It's an odd problem, don't you think? But her alternative, I guess, is to keep her characters frozen in time.

At 7/21/2005 03:32:00 AM, Anonymous Mel said...

Im a 14 year old girl from australia. I finished the book today and the ending was quite well unexpected. What shocked me the most was that harry said he wasnt coming back to hogwarts. Ummm yea.. dumbledores death didnt nmake me cry7 but the funeral is what touched me the most.

At 7/21/2005 07:58:00 AM, Blogger Laura said...

nice to meet you Mel, hope to see you again in here! I have a xanga too, if you want to see it, email me at and I'll send you the link.



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