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    Posted June 23, 2011 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Growing up with 'Harry Potter'

    Forever Changed by Potter


    It was the summer between my kindergarten and first grade years when my mom returned home from the bookstore with a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. She laid the paperback down on our kitchen table and told me that a number of her friends had told her that the Harry Potter books were wonderful stories, and she wanted me to try Sorcerer’s Stone. My mom offered to read it aloud to me.

    That night, before I went to bed, my mother sat down and turned to the page that read “The Boy Who Lived”. As the story began to unfold, I sat mesmerized by the magical world of J.K. Rowling’s creation. After a few more nights of reading with my mom, I could restrain myself no longer, and I picked up the book and began to read it on my own.

    I finished the book a week or two later. I was sitting in the bright sunlight of Myrtle Beach as I closed the back cover of the novel. At that moment, I knew that I had to get my hands on the next book as soon as possible. I quickly progressed through Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Goblet of Fire. When I reached Order of the Phoenix, my mother forbade me to continue reading, afraid that I might be upset by the darker tone and events of the fifth installment. Somehow or another, however, I managed to discover what happened in the book, and my mother gave me permission to read it.

    When it came time for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to be released, my mother told me that she would take me to the midnight release party at our local bookstore. Unfortunately, I became ill just before we left for the celebration, and was unable to go. I did, however, obtain a copy the next day, and, shortly after my mom read and approved the book, devoured the story. As I finished that lengthy narrative, the realization came to me that there was one more book left. One more book and Harry’s tale would be complete.

    On December 21, 2006, I discovered the title of the seventh book through a hangman puzzle on Jo’s official website. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was to be the title of the final installment in a series that had changed my life forever. After several (seemingly endless) months of waiting, it was time. On the evening of July 20, 2007, my dad drove me to the bookstore. There was a veritable horde of fans packed into the building, fervently awaiting the midnight hour. There were games, trivia tests, and even a scavenger hunt set up to entertain the followers until midnight. At last, the time came for the book to be released. I counted down with the crowd to that moment of mixed sorrow and joy. Everyone cheered as the first copy was sold, and then we began the lengthy wait for our turn at the register. Finally, “Reserved copy number 372!” rang out over the crowd, and I hurried to the counter to pay for my book.

    When I awoke the next day, I opened the book and read the dedication. What I read spoke deeply to me. “The dedication of this book is split seven ways: to Neil, to Jessica, to David, to Kenzie, to Di, to Anne, and to you, if you have stuck with Harry until the very end.” I had stuck with Harry. This book was partially dedicated to me. After I took a moment to reflect, I set to work on the first chapter. Nine hours later, I shut the cover of the final book in the Harry Potter series. I had finished the final chapter of Harry’s epic tale. I knew that there were still films and video games to come, but I knew that this was, in a way, the end. J.K. Rowling would not be writing about any more of Harry’s, Ron’s, and Hermione’s escapades; there would be no more wise words from Albus Dumbledore; there would be no more battles with Voldemort.

    When I read the Harry Potter books, I gained a new friend. I know now Harry better than I know some of my real friends. I know his personality, his feelings, and his history. I also gained a mentor in Dumbledore. His witty phrases and pieces of advice to Harry always made lasting impressions on my mind.

    I also admit to being slightly disappointed when an owl didn’t arrive with my Hogwarts acceptance letter on my eleventh birthday… However, I can still live in Harry’s world through my imagination, and J.K. Rowling’s writing style somehow draws me into the story in a way that no other literature can.

    Today, I am fourteen and my love for Harry Potter has not diminished in any way; in fact, it has only grown stronger. Most of my friends feel the same way, and our devotion to the series brings us closer together. I have seen every movie from Prisoner of Azkaban on in theaters (including two midnight screenings), I have played every video game, I have dressed up as Harry for Halloween on numerous occasions, I have listened to every soundtrack, and Harry Potter movie posters adorn my bedroom walls. I have traveled to Orlando, Florida to “experience the magic” of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and even now am considering traveling to New York City to see Harry Potter: The Exhibition. I have read every Harry Potter book more times than I care to count, and plan to read them many more times in my future. I can use quotes from the books in my daily conversations. I still sit and marvel at the expansiveness of the Potterverse, and discuss the books and films with my friends.

    These fantastic books have made a profound impact on my life. Harry Potter has defined my generation, and while our “Harry Potter era” may be drawing to a close, the series will live on forever.

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