Growing up with Harry Potter

On 19th of November 2010 the world witnessed the movie release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1. Millions of truly addicted fans greatly anticipated to watch the new episode of the movie since the 6th release in 2009.

I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself to be one of them: I never spent hours waiting in lines to get my copy of the novel and I haven’t tried to make it to the first viewing; but somehow, Harry Potter still means a lot to me.

Going back in my own ‘whirlpool memory’ I reckon the times when I was introduced to Harry Potter in 2001. It happened in my school in Moscow, when my good friend’s brother showed me the heavy book with a legendary boy on the cover.

Well, let me tell you: I was not impressed straight away, because I never enjoyed epic fantasy before. So initially I thought that Harry Potter wasn’t any different from the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, which I hated from page 1 and couldn’t force myself to watch as a movie. And besides for that, I had a long list of classic literature masterpieces ahead of me as a part of school curriculum (yes, Russian high school rocks!) and I wasn’t interested to read another massive book, just because it was considered ‘cool’ among my peers.

For some reason I still borrowed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and started to read it on the train that very day, ignoring the assigned chapters from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. I fell in love with the lively imaginary world, funky character names and applied wizardry. I almost missed my stop. That was it: enchanted I was.

I finished the second part of Harry Potter series in just a few days and made sure to catch up on the missing first part Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Needless to say, that shortly after that, I moved to J.K. Rowling’s imaginary world, where I followed Harry and his friends quietly, covered by my own ‘invisibility cloak.’

Unseen for Hogwarts inhabitants, my literary adventures were very well ‘acknowledged’ by high-school teachers, who caught me reading Harry Potter books behind the textbook in class.  I am still not sure what caused them to be upset. Maybe I was a bit lost in math and physics, but I knew all ins and outs of wizardry; Hermione had taught me well.

In 2002 I’ve immigrated to the US to continue my education in religious Jewish high-school in Pittsburgh. After living in Russia for 16 years, I was amazed to see so many Jewish institutions, bookshops and kosher food groceries. Once again, it was a new magical world to me.

I remember the day when my brother, who studied in Pitt Law school, took me to the Jewish bookstore Pinskers to buy school textbooks in Hebrew. I felt like Harry Potter, who came to Ollivander’s Wand Shop in Diagon Alley with Hagrid to get his first wand.

Later on, my brother took me to the local cinema to watch the second Harry Potter movie in 2002. It was awesome.  I loved the massive screen, the blasting music and the special effects. But… I didn’t understand a word. And vot ver u ekspekting from a Russian girl who just moved to the States? My poor brother had to translate the whole movie to me word-by-word, whispering the meaning of each line into my ear, which drove the neighbouring popcorn eaters quite insane.

The time went by. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson were growing up and so was I. Their fights with Lord Voldemort intensified; I struggled with Uni and nostalgia. We had a lot in common. Each year we would get together for a couple of days to enjoy each other’s company.  Then I would be left alone again, contemplating about the plot and thinking about the future episodes.

In 2005 Harry fell in love with Ginni, as I found out from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince book in 2005. Gotta admit, I was already engaged to my future husband; so I guess I was ahead of legendary heroes at least in this sense. By the time the next book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was launched in 2007 I was a mother of a newborn baby boy. I still remember reading the book just a few days after the birth while feeding the baby at 4 a. m.  Should I say more? ))

When the movie based on that book was released in July 2009 I didn’t make it to the cinema. It was about a year since we moved to Australia and I just had a baby girl a few months earlier. I was new to the country, unsure about the immigration choice I’ve made and uninterested in going out all together. So, we watched the film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from the comfort of our home. And even though my house, the couch and the screen were different, the wondrous atmosphere was still the same.

And today I am a twenty-four year old mother of two children, having a degree and another immigration experience I had to go through just 2,5 years ago.  So, what do I have in common with fantasy characters from my childhood and teenage years? I mean, isn’t it finally the right time to get serious and plan my career, buy an investment place or just clean the carpet?

It definitely is. But I am still happy to retain the spark of sincere euphoria I feel each time another Harry Potter book/movie comes out.

That’s why I went to Jam Factory cinema last Sunday with my husband to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1. Once again, I was mesmerised by my old friends’ brilliant play, sophisticated plot, the special effects, but more than all, the deep emotional truth behind the meaning. It’s not just a fairytale anymore; rather a drama for adults.

I didn’t realise that I would be almost crying to see Dobby the House Elf sacrificing himself to save his friends’ lives. The intense Muggle discrimination reminded me of the historical lessons of the Holocaust. And the fairy friendship of Harry, Ron and Hermione has instantly brought back memories of my own three best  friends from high-school in Russia.

This time around, though, I didn’t need translator’s services. I simply relived the best moments of Harry Potter’s saga, thanks to J.K. Rowling, the movie producers and the actors.

It’s a bit sad that the last episode is going to be released this year, but I guess that all good things have to come to an end. Besides, I can always reread the series with my children, and therefore the magical world of Harry Potter is going to last.
Categories: book reviews, celebrities, film reviews, immigration, Judaism | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Growing up with Harry Potter

  1. vadim

    Hi Linok ! It was a wonderful story .I have just opened the new writer .
    Writing about Harry Porter you had told your story from your school .
    You had recollected from your memory your life in Russia ,in the USA
    and in Australia .Its a song, your song.I know you have bags to write
    your song of songs.I will waite for it.

  2. Wow!, this was a top quality post. In explanation I’d like to publish like this also – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I keep putting it off and never seem to get something done

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