Harry Potter lives with the most ordinary family, his aunt Petunia, uncle Vernon, and cousin Dudley Dursley in Surrey, England. He attends an ordinary school and eats ordinary food. Except, nothing about Harry is ordinary. Strange things happen when he is around. Dudley and his gang chase him and he’ll suddenly find himself on the roof of the school. A snake at the zoo tries to talk to him. He gets a bad haircut and his hair grows back overnight. Harry doesn’t really pay attention to these things, but they seem to bother his aunt and uncle. Then the letters arrive. Each one addressed to Harry’s bedroom in the cupboard under the stairs. Before he can read them, his uncle tears them up and burns them. But he can’t keep them from Harry forever. This first book in the Harry Potter series follows our titular character as he goes from ordinary to extraordinary and learns about his true past and his famous future.
Those of you who are Harry Potter fans will probably say that this has been the lamest intro to the series ever, but I’m trying not to spoil things for people who haven’t experienced it yet. Sure, the Harry Potter series has probably been spoiled 1000 times over for everyone who hasn’t read it by now, but just in case it hasn’t, I won’t be the one to spoil the magic.
This is my first time re-reading the Harry Potter series since I was about 7 and my mother started reading the books aloud to my brother and me. We read the first three back-to-back and then the last four as they came out. It was a truly life-changing experience. You could say that I was part of that generation that grew up with Harry. So, at this time in my life when I am working towards writing more myself, I thought it would be a good idea to re-read some of my favorite childhood books. Obviously, I’m starting with Harry Potter because the 8th story is being released at the end of the month.
Not having the read the books in nearly 20 years (it’s 17, but it’s close!), I didn’t realize how much I had forgotten. I was one of those annoying people who, after seeing the films, would pick apart everything that was different from the books. ‘The Dursley’s should have blond hair’ I’d say, and my family would roll their eyes and tell me to get over it. The more I watched the movies, the less I remembered what had been changed from the books. But delving into Harry’s magical world again after so long had just the same effect it did on me the first time around. It was awe-inspiring and wonderful and amazing. Just how I remembered. Knowing how it all ends doesn’t make me not want to read the series. In fact, it makes certain passages have even greater meaning.
There is a passage on page 99 when Ron is lamenting having to live up to his family’s expectations. He says that even if he does well, it won’t be surprising because it is expected. As I read this, I just wanted to reach into the book and give him a big old hug and tell him what the future holds. He’s going to be amazing. They all are, they just don’t know it yet.
Getting back into this series is so much fun, and I can’t wait to dive into Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets soon! As far as recommendations, go this is an obvious YES. The series as a whole teaches so much tolerance and understanding that it should be a mandatory read for everyone, especially in this day and age when the world is dealing with so much hatred and violence.
If you are looking for something family-friendly and interesting to read, Harry Potter is a go to. There is such a wealth of content that everyone from the ages of 5 to 105 will enjoy it and learn something from it.
HHC Rating: 5 Stars
Other reviews in this series:
Book #2 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Book #3 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Book #4 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Book #5 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Book #6 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Book #7 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Cursed Child – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Fantastic Beasts #1 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay