Review: Harry, A History

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Since today is the final day of our Harry Potter waiting madness, I thought it would be an appropriate day to post the ramblings I wrote just after finishing Melissa Anelli’s Harry, A History. Please keep in mind that the majority of these ramblings were written very late at night a few weeks ago. While they’re not a review, per se, I’m categorizing it as one – for anyone who is confused at the end, I loved the book.

*Skip to two weeks ago*
Having just finished Harry, A History, I have a lot of Harry related thoughts running around my head. As it is after 1 am and thoughts are not particularly conducive to sleep, I thought I’d share.

Firstly, Harry Potter saved my life. I know, we all have our own versions of this story. But picture this: A 9-year-old only child whose only friends are the books she reads has run out of “children’s” books to read. I’m not even exaggerating that much – as someone who grew up with adults I had no idea how to interact with children. I’d been struggling for weeks with incredible boredom. I was lost. This was a huge turning point for me. I can’t even imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t been introduced to Harry. I can still remember that day – late in fall 1998, before Harry was the Harry Potter, before we even knew J.K. stood for Joanne and not Joseph, when my school librarian suggested it. I ordered the book on inter-library loan and got it within two days (later releases had wait lists more than a year long before the embargo even lifted). I devoured the book in a mere few hours. Suddenly I loved reading again. I would try harder to find books to read. I picked up copies of The Hobbit and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in the months following, both of which had covers that had previously scared me away. Without Harry Potter, I might have stopped reading altogether and the thought of what that life would be now is just unbearable.

Reading Harry, A History was like reliving that time in my life – a time when more magic was waiting just around the corner and when what would happen in the next book was just as important to me as what would happen to me tomorrow. I remember I kept a tally of how many times I re-read the first book inside the front cover – there are at least 10 hash marks now and I stopped counting somwhere around when book 5 came out. I grew up as a part of the Harry Potter generation and it drastically affected my life.

Though Harry, A History is not a part of the original 7 books I think it should be required reading for all with an interest in Harry’s story. Part of understanding the love of Harry is understanding the phenomenon. I will certainly be making this book available to my possible future children when they’re old enough to read Harry’s story themselves.

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