The boy who lived

Spoilers for all five Harry Potter books are contained within.

Since it’s less than two months until Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be in my hands, I thought I should go ahead and start my re-read, just so everything is fresh in my mind. I’m almost done with Philosopher’s Stone, and it made me think about the first time Mike and I read it.

We were at Barnes and Noble for some reason or other, and Mike insisted that we buy the first book in the series. I hadn’t really heard of the books, so I wasn’t all that interested, but he really wanted to read them, so I agreed. Honestly, when we started the first one, I thought, “This is just like James and the Giant Peach [because of the poor orphaned British boy who was mistreated by his relatives]. If I wanted to read Roald Dahl, I’d just read Roald Dahl.” Soon, though, the storytelling sucked me in, and we had to go back and buy the first two books in hardcover so we could have a matching set. (Mike didn’t hear the end of the first book until much later, because he fell asleep as I was reading about Harry, Ron, and Hermione solving all those puzzles to get to the stone. When he saw the movie, he was like, “Um, is this how it really goes?” hehe.) We read the second and third books during a snowstorm, and we read the fourth (which is my personal favorite) on our honeymoon. The fifth was read all over the place, including our front porch, the O. Henry hotel (we went and had tea), and all over our apartment.

It’s funny to think back on that first book – we called Hermione “Lucy” because we didn’t know how to pronounce the name, and for some reason we thought she wasn’t going to be an important character. (Before the second book, I found this handy pronunciation guide so we could finally pronounce everything correctly.) I remember reading the third book and everything was looking so great, and I turned to Mike and said, “There are still 100 pages left, which does not seem good.” And it wasn’t . . . we watched in despair as everything that had been so good fell apart so quickly. I remember when I thought Ron was actually going to die in Goblet of Fire during the underwater task. I remember reading the second half of book four on the nine-hour drive from PEI to Maine, and I remember reading the line where Cedric died and not wanting to read it out loud to Mike. I remember how Sirius’s death was a bit of a relief, since we knew someone was going to die and we had been worrying about everyone the entire book.

Of all the books, Order of the Phoenix is probably my least favorite, partly because of Madame Umbridge and partly because I had read so much speculation that I had figured out that the first prophecy had to do with Harry being some kind of “chosen one.” The twists in that book weren’t as much of a surprise, which meant that it wasn’t as exciting as, say, Goblet of Fire. Goblet of Fire is my favorite both because we read it on our honeymoon and because I never would have seen the Mad Eye Moody/Barty Crouch thing coming. And because of what Dumbledore says at the end (which is on the new trailer for the Goblet of Fire movie), when he tells them that when they have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, that they should think of Cedric.

There is good stuff in Order of the Phoenix, though. It cemented my Neville-love, and I cried and cried after that scene with his mother in the hospital. As much as I don’t look forward to reading about Madame Umbridge, I do love how Ginny and Neville grow up during the book, and Ron and Hermione’s relationship, and rebellious teenage Harry (poor kid needs a hug . . . and some therapy).

I haven’t read any spoilers or speculation on book six, and I plan to keep it that way. I want to be surprised. It finally seems real that it’s going to be here in just a couple of months, and I’m ready (though not as desperate as I was for book five. Man, that was a long wait).

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