I love Harry Potter. It’s a great example of immersive world-building, inclusive characterization, and maintains a message about the power of friendship and togetherness against the believed superiority of one group over others. It also got a generation of kids (and adults) reading more and has helped many feel more comfortable in their own skin.
And what’s more, it made us all believe we could be wizards, too.
It’s one of the books/series I keep coming back to again and again, especially when I’m feeling down or in the throngs of despair or aimlessness. It always lifts my spirits, inspires me, and gets me back in control of myself again. I am so fond of it, in fact, that it is one of my “special interests” (re: autism) — a sort of avenue or gateway for my focus and passion.
I was eleven when I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the same age as Harry when he learned he was a wizard and that he belonged to a wondrous, seemingly unseen world. Many people, including myself, have found solace in this: identifying with Harry’s unease in a world at odds with himself, and then his relief of finding his own place next to others like him. For me this speaks to my previously unknown autism and then my discovery of the autistic community, but for others this came in the form of finding their suppressed queer self, or just finding the confidence and courage to be themselves.
Like everything it of course has it’s own issues (which I’ll address in a later post), including the apparent slavery of house-elves, the questionable idolization of Snape (and Dumbledore), and those of it’s creator, JK Rowling. I’ll address her ongoing unpleasantness in another later post as well, but for now suffice it to say, she is very problematic.