Book Review: Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery
Book Review: Winterland by Rae Meadows

Reread of The Last Four Harry Potter Novels: My Thoughts

“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both influencing injury, and remedying it.”

Back in October of last year, I decided to listen to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (my favorite book in the series). I was wanting an October-esque read and it was available to check out on Libby.

Hp collageIt kind of sparked a renewed interest in Harry Potter, so this winter I decided to listen to the rest of the series.

Strangely enough, RIGHT after I started Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, I read a Facebook post by a friend, wherein she expressed her irritation with “lefties” who have cancelled J. K. Rowling. As I’m trying to avoid getting myself into Internet brawls I just scrolled on by, but I did think about that while I listened to the books.

IS it wrong to enjoy the creative efforts of someone whose politics, values, or actions don’t align with your own?

The example I always come back to with this question is Anne Sexton. Some of her poems are touchstones for my entire life. “Her Kind” and “Unknown Girl in the Maternity Ward” and “Truths the Dead Know,” among others, have kept me going in dark times when I didn’t think I could. And yet, after I read her daughter’s memoir, Searching for Mercy Street, I can’t look at her work without the hitch of knowing. Nor have I reread The Mists of Avalon, a book I adore, after learning about how Marion Zimmer Bradley enabled her husband’s abuse of her.

But I do still love the works they created.

And I know enough fellow “lefties” who still read and love and think about Harry Potter to understand that mostly my friend’s post was the result of right-wing media consumption.

The truth is, all art throughout all time has been created by people. Creating something amazing doesn’t absolve you of your faults, but it also doesn’t make you something other than completely human. Where one individual draws the line is that individual’s choice, and wrestling with that line is an interesting part of being involved in literary ideas.

The fact is, regardless of her opinion on trans people, J. K. Rowling’s work has impacted millions of lives. For me, it is deeply entwined with the years that my very littles were beginning to emerge into childhood. I read the first four books out loud to my Bigs, so I have a great sentimental affection for them. And there is also the truth that once a writer releases their book, they no longer get to control the responses readers have—we, as readers, separate our response to a book from the author’s intent because we bring our own interpretations to it. So the opposite can be true, we can acknowledge a writer’s faults and problematic beliefs while still being impacted by their work.

None of which is an actual review of Harry Potter, but it’s what I thought about as I listened.

I also realized something during this reread: Lily Potter is entirely overlooked. Sure, she’s held up as the reason Harry is alive and protected, but I wanted so much more of her story. How did she get past her dislike of James? What did she think of motherhood? What grief did she experience over her ruptured relationship with Petunia?

I know it’s outside of the story, but it’s what I wanted to know.


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