The Compulsive Reader: The Horcruxes of My Childhood

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Horcruxes of My Childhood

This is a "between books" post! As anyone who grew up loving and reading Harry Potter, I have lots of memories where the Harry Potter books play a big role. To me, they were never just a series of books, they were markers of my childhood.

My mom decided to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone before allowing me to read it, because I went to a parochial school that disapproved of the books. I was about eight or nine, and I thought my mom was taking too long, so while at my older brother's basketball tournament, I lied and told my mom I wasn't feeling well and I wanted to go out to the car and try to take a nap. She let me, not knowing that what I really intended on doing was starting the book she had left in the front seat...

I didn't tell my Mom I did this until I was 23 and she was shocked, then highly amused at my deception. Needless to say, Harry Potter passed the mom test, and a few years later the parochial school I attended decided that Harry Potter was going to be a losing battle, although I had many school friends who weren't allowed to touch those books for years and years.

I received Prisoner of Azkaban for Christmas. I finished it in a day and cried. My brothers were disgusted with me. "It's just a book," they said.

Goblet of Fire was the first book I got in hardcover because my mom got sick of telling me to wait for the paperback. She bought it for me on Easter weekend. It took me three days to finish and I was immensely proud of myself for finishing a book of that length in only three days.

By the time Order of the Phoenix rolled around, I was wise about hardcover vs. paperback release dates, and I had no intention of waiting around for the paperback, nor did I want a long, drawn-out battle with my parents about whether or not I should wait for the paperback. I figured I'd start prepping my parents early with the notion that they would be forking over money for a hardcover, and they'd be doing it on release day, too. I promised I'd do extra chores, good behavior, anything. And they still refused to buy it for me! Not since Harry was forced into the cupboard under the stairs has a child experienced more unjust treatment. About a week after the release, on the day we were to leave town to go camping, a box arrived for me. Inside, it contained...the Order of the Phoenix! My dear aunt in Colorado had wanted to surprise me with the book, which is why my parents had so unjustly refused to buy it for me! I was overjoyed!

I put on my headphones, plugged them into my portable CD player, and read Order of the Phoenix in the car--much to the disgust of my brothers and our friends, who wanted to talk and hang out. Things were going so well, until around the Michigan-Indiana border, when I realized something very, very dire: pages were missing. PAGES. WERE. MISSING. Eighty-two, to be precise. I let loose a scream that very nearly sent us careening off the highway, and insisted that we pull over at the next exit to find a replacement copy, ASAP. My parents heeded my wishes, whether in sympathy or in fear that I'd go ballistic, Carrie-style, I don't know. We ended up swapping it out at a Sam's Club, and I spent the entire weekend reading and ignoring my parents when they suggested that I put the book down for a minute and go fishing or something. Whatever. HARRY POTTER. The weekend ended with me crying ugly tear over Sirius and everyone ignoring me. My brothers thought I got what I deserved.

When the final Harry Potter book came out, I spent months in anxious excitement. I was in high school when it came out, and the week before I spent a week at a summer camp. It was biotechnology summer camp, and that only seems important to mention because the only teens who go to a summer biotechnology summer camp are uber nerds. And uber nerds read Harry Potter. Our group shared a dorm with a boys' high school hockey camp, and so every evening would find us in the same situation: the nerds sitting cross legged in a circle, cradling our copies of Half-Blood Prince and discussing theories, while the hockey boys would pelt past us, hurling expletives and insults. We would scream back "Sectumsempra!" and they would laugh. We passed every evening like this until camp dispersed and we all went home and then straight to a midnight release party. I read the seventh book in one day and wound up sobbing for an entire evening. I have read bits and pieces of the book again, but never straight through...until this month!

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