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Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

I must first acknowledge that, yes, it’s 2016, and yes, I’m only just now reading the first book in the Harry Potter series – largely thanks to my super sweet #otspsecretsister, who sent me Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling via the Pottermore store. I don’t know why I avoided this series for so long. In fact, I wasn’t so much as avoiding it as more inclined to read other things. Now, having read and finished book one, I wish I had been part of the Harry Potter Mania, when hordes of fans would line up to snag a copy from the bookstore on release day. I likely would have been a Potterhead of the First Order!

There’s not much that I can say about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that hasn’t already been said thousands of times by others much more eloquent than me. However, I still wanted to put my thoughts down for posterity’s sake, as I do want to continue the series now that I’ve started.

In short, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was magical, funny, touching, and captivating. A real masterpiece in children’s Fantasy literature! The first chapter is quite odd, but in a curious way, and I can see why adults and children both are drawn in to continue reading. Who is the mysterious baby with a lightning bolt scar on his head, dropped off at a house on Privet Drive in the wee hours of the morning? What happened to his parents? What happens to him?

Children of all ages and backgrounds can connect with Harry. He went from being an unloved, unwanted boy (blast that Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and weeble-wobble Dudley!), to discovering that he comes from a respected wizarding background and has a first-class ticket to Hogwarts! As Harry ambles around with giant, gentle Hagrid, collecting all of his school supplies, I couldn’t help but grin. What kid (or, admit it, adult) wouldn’t want a magical broomstick or an owl as a pet?!

Once Harry arrives at Hogwarts as a green, wide-eyed student, he makes friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and the real fun begins! Exploring the mysterious rooms and hallways, crawling through talking mirrors, and attending lessons on magic, potions, and broomstick-flying, one can’t help but be enchanted by the setting and the characters and creatures in it – yes, even the ghosts and Mrs Morris, the sneaky, tattle-tale cat. Harry and his friends get into their share of trouble, but it’s heart-warming to see Harry coming into his own, trying new things, and making new friends.

The other characters are just as endearing or equally sinister, including the gregarious giant, Hagrid, eccentric, loveable Dumbledore, hopeless, toad-losing Neville, vengeful Snape, and malevolent Voldemort. When Harry and his friends constantly confront danger in their quest to discover the sinister secret that Snape seems to be hiding, the reader can’t help but be drawn into the mystery, too. Children always seem to need someone to cheer for and someone to rise against, and I feel they can find the perfect combination of these characters in Harry Potter. By the end of the book, you come to care deeply about the characters, and are invested in their personal journeys. Have we seen the last of Voldemort? What will happen to Professor Quirrell? What does the next semester at Hogwarts hold for Harry, Hermione, Ron, and the rest of the gang?

(An aside -- It’s a testament to how pervasive Harry Potter popularity is, that I constantly pictured the characters from the movies, despite never having seen them. Now, they seem so apt!)

While the Harry Potter series is geared more towards a middle-grade crowd, I harbor no embarrassment having read the first book at 29 years old. Regret, perhaps, as I’ve clearly been missing out, and there is much to learn from Harry Potter and his friends, even as an adult. What does it mean to be true to yourself? What does it mean to be a friend? What does it mean to work hard for what you want? What does it mean to be kind, brave, and honest? Sometimes, as adults, we get so caught up in “adulting” that we forget these simple things. We feel the world owes us; we feel we know everything. Let me tell you, dear reader -- young or old, man or woman, black, brown or white -- Harry Potter can teach you a thing or two, if you let him.

I can’t wait to read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and I am just as excited to eventually introduce my sweet, two-year old nephew to Harry, Hermione, Ron, Hagrid, Dumbledore, and the rest of the Hogwarts crew. Special thanks to my #otspsecretsister for giving me the gift that keeps on giving <3

P.S. I’m a Ravenclaw! What are you??

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