As I sit to write this, I have just pried myself off of a sunny porch where, not 24 hours ago, I was leaning to catch the last rays of the sun while racing to catch the last words on the last page of…
Cover from Goodreads.com
Now, while I was the right age to be reading the Harry Potter series as it came out, I was a bit too obsessed with reading about lady knights and trickster queens *cough* Tamora Pierce *cough* to have time for wizards.
So, it was in my teens (and after #7 had already hit the top of Amazon’s bestseller list) that I listened to the audio books. Consumed the audio books? Ravenously devoured? Eh… take your pick. Seriously, though, Jim Dale isn’t even human. How can anyone read aloud so spectacularly?
I actually was in the back of the car on the way to a conference, listening on my ipod, when a certain silver-bearded wizard croaked, and, tears pouring down my face, I begged my brother to tell me if it was permanent. “He’s not dead,” I have a vague recollection of sobbing. My brother was too kind to lie to me. He told me, voice full of pity for my current emotional purgatory, that it was real. He was gone.
And that’s not even talking about Sirius. That messed me up, too. I had a crush on him.
Look at that handsome devil with his pocketwatch and waistcoat. He was too good for this world, I tell you.
While I don’t have gobs of lore memorized, and wouldn’t describe myself as a Potter-head… I have seen the movies, read the books, listened to the books, went to Fantastic Beasts in theaters, and am a proud Hufflepuff (did you honestly think I would be a different house?) with a robin Patronus. I learned to appreciate the stories as my mind matured out of young adulthood and could appreciate the grown-up genius that went into the creation of this world.
*drags self out of nostalgic haze* SO HERE WE ARE! The Cursed Child. This clocked a few wins on my radar, and I can’t think of anything I really /didn’t/ like about it. Without further ado, but a few SPOILERS…
- It fixed the plot hole. Ever wonder why nobody used time-turners during the war against Voldemort? Well, now we know. It might not be a perfect bit of darning to repair the hole, but it does the job satisfactorily.
- Scorpius is a cinnamon roll. If you ever wanted a snuggly Slytherin, Scorpius is your fella. He is so cute and adorable and I love him to bits. He exposes everything that Slytherins try to hide – the vulnerability, wounded pride, and desperation. It could have made him cold; instead, it made him kind. A+ characterization, Rowling. *applause* We all wanted a Hufflepuff protagonist (Newt Scamander) and a huggable Slytherin (Scorpius). You delivered. We appreciate. Now, give us a Ravenclaw who has to leave her library, and we’ll be content.
- Harry Potter grew up. If you’re looking to slide right back into the Harry Potter Hogwarts universe, you will find disappointment in these pages. Harry is grown up. He has grown-up problems. His son is dealing with those problems, too. Where the original series dealt with saving the world and being brave in the face of bald-faced danger, this has more to do with being brave enough to trust, to love, and to forgive. Harry’s childhood follows him into adulthood, and he has to deal with that lasting damage (sometimes he doesn’t deal very well). Same goes for Draco. And… I have to say… seeing those two interact as adults made my world. I wanted that resolution. I wanted them to move past petty rivalries of school, even if a few hurts still lingered. This point might be a mixed bag for some readers who wanted to dive back into the world like nothing had changed, but I found it to be subtly and expertly done.
- Snape’s redemption. In this book, we have a glimpse into what Snape might have become if he had not died. Now, a lot of people (myself included) found the deification of Snape somewhat disturbing. He wasn’t really a good guy. Sure, he turned out to be on their side, but… did he have to be so nasty to Hermione? I mean, she was just a kid. How about Neville? It reveals a deep flaw in his character that he should take out his pain on children. So what if he loved Harry’s mother? He was still a jerk. I felt like this book also does a bit of darning between the gap that was Snape’s actions and Harry’s ultimate reaction to him (naming his son Albus Severus). I’m glad Rowling chose to narrow that gap instead of doubling down on her decision.
- The writing, people… the writing. I found myself holding my heart in my hand more than once during the reading of this book/play. The writing stands up to the original series very well. Bravo! Here, again, some might take issue. This book doesn’t focus on new things, but it does focus on new feelings. In the original series, each book brought us a new bit of magic, a new character, and a new facet of the world. This book rather chooses to revisit old ground in order to inspire new feelings. I feel like this is another way the book showcases the grown-up-ness of it all. Our childhoods and teen years are all filled with new experiences, friends, and abilities. It is only in adulthood that we can look back with clear eyes on those places, events, and people.
I could, and might, happily go through word-by-word and tell you my favorite bits of this story. There are some marvelous quotes on goodreads.com. The book upholds many virtues espoused in the original series, often delivering the moral punches with such precision as to leave the reader in emotional pain.
We are reminded that it only takes one person to change the world.
We are reminded that damaged pasts are not an excuse for present faults, though they might explain them.
We are reminded that love, the truest, selfless, honest, good love, will forever be more powerful than both our own faults and the darkness of the Enemy. Parent and child, brother and sister, and friend to friend – the light of love shines through the words of this story with a beautiful brightness. Just as it did in the first seven stories.
*All uncited images in this post are from pottermore.com