Wednesday, July 02, 2003

We are about half way into the latest Harry Potter. Margaret and I read chapters to each other in the evenings, as we did the first four books several years ago when friends introduced us to this practice.

As advertised, this novel is darker, and Harry is more angry and emotional. He is fifteen in this book, and Rowling has brilliantly matched the story to the kind of challenge an adolescent is more likely to see, and more able to respond to. The younger Harry had to deal with threats from outside the Hogwarts school, and though he had some troubled times within it, with several teachers and with some other students, basically he found comfort and support there. Now he is confronted with official authority that is despotic and insidious, and yet has absolute control over his school life. Some of this actually reminds me of my own adolescence, in Catholic junior high and high school. But what's also interesting is that this presents challenge that might have been overwhelming for the younger Harry. Along with emotional turmoil, Harry shows signs of moving towards awareness of his strengths. It takes a wise writer to see this, and a skillful one to make it feel real.

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