I did it! I actually made my deadline! I read all seven Harry Potter books before the end of the year! And it really wasn't all that hard because they were good. If they had been awful, I'm sure it would have been a different story. But what a story it was! I can't imagine being J.K. Rowling and being able to plan out such a complex storyline. It is one of my greatest fantasies to be a writer- the kind of writer who could create such wonderful books.
But this, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was by far my favorite of the series. It started with this wonderful quote on the very first page: "Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still."
I was touched to see that poor Dudley just couldn't understand that Harry would not be going into hiding with the rest of the Dursleys. He was worried about Harry. The Dursleys have absolutely no idea who Harry is, how important he is, but Dudley is finally seeing that Harry is not the worthless drain, the "waste of space" that his mother and father have always taught him Harry was. Dudley is grateful that Harry saved his life. I thought it was rather sad that Dudley would only then have been able to express, however inadequately, his gratitude and concern for Harry. When Harry realized the cold cup of tea outside his door had been from Dudley, I wanted to cry.
I did get a little frustrated again with the pace of the middle part of this book. I know that Rowling has to fill an entire year in her time line, but at parts it did feel slow to me.
I really liked how Kreacher became such an important part of the search for the Horcruxes. His story gave them so many clues and brought them one step closer to defeating Voldemort. It made all the difference in the world to Kreacher for Harry to treat him with respect and kindness. Suddenly, Kreacher was happy to serve. The house became cleaner and he worked hard to provide better meals. Don't we all work better when we feel appreciated? And while we're on the topic of house elves: poor, sweet Dobby! He loved Harry Potter and defended him at every turn. That his final act was saving Harry and his friends once again is no surprise. How touching was Harry's digging of Dobby's grave and burying him with respect, dignity and shoes on his feet! You guessed it- I cried again.
So much happened in this book that I simply cannot comment on it all so I will skip to the end where I seem to have quite a few of my Post-It flags. I loved that Neville stepped up and became so much stronger while Harry was gone. Someone needed to fill that spot and he was just the right person. As they began their education at Hogwarts, Neville was not exactly a strong wizard, but his confidence grew over the years and with Harry's encouragement. My favorite part of that story was that in this final book, Neville's grandmother was suddenly so proud of her grandson.
I was relieved when Percy returned to his family and fought along side them. Fred's shock at Percy making a joke about resigning from the Ministry was classic, but painful when, in the next moment, Fred was killed. I know it would be far too unrealistic for every character the reader cares about to survive, but that doesn't make it any easier when we've become so attached to each one.
I must admit that I was heartbroken over Snape's story once it all finally came to light. There are several of these "lost boys" in this series. I didn't realized how many until it was pointed out for me: "Hogwarts was the first and best home [Harry] had known. He and Voldemort and Snape, the abandoned boys, had all found home here...." Snape had been in love with Lily nearly all his life and had never really known love in return. After hearing Snape's memories, I realized that Snape's request for Harry to look at him as he died was because he wanted to be able to look into Lily's eyes as he took his last breath. I also learned from those memories that when Dumbledore died, he wasn't begging Snape for his life, he was begging Snape to kill him. This allowed Dumbledore a painless death and spared Draco: "That boy's soul is not yet so damaged. I would not have it ripped apart on my account." Severus Snape really had repented of his time with Voldemort. He really was serving Dumbledore. He really was trying to protect Harry.
I was in tears as Harry walked to his death. He knew he had to die and was ready. How painful to not be able to say goodbye to one's friends, but how brave to go knowing his death would protect them. I was pleased that Dumbledore was able to meet Harry after he died. Finally everything was understood. Harry had to discover the truth the hard way. "You are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world that dying." I absolutely loved that quote. Also: "Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love." And finally, when Harry asks if this interaction with Dumbledore is real or in his head, "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"
And so we come to the final battle scene. Did you cheer for Molly Weasley like I did when she said, "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!"? Bellatrix never guessed she would be beaten by a mother, but she underestimated a mother's instinct to protect her children. I gave another cheer when Harry started calling Voldemort by his actual name, Tom Riddle. He is no longer the Dark Lord. There is no fear in Harry to pronounce his name. Harry already knows he will win this battle and the war. The final curses were flung at one another, the Elder Wand flew through the air to its true master, and Voldemort was finally dead.
Much later, sweet Luna provides an escape for the exhausted Harry and he retreats to the headmaster's study. As they enter, they are greeted by the "earsplitting" applause of all the former headmasters and headmistresses of Hogwarts. Harry lets go of the Hallows. He repairs his own wand and finds a way to break the Elder Wand's power. All is well. Life goes on. They grow up and they are happy.
Whew! This was an extremely quick journey through Harry Potter's world. Eight weeks to read seven rather large novels during the busiest time of the year took real effort, but it has been very rewarding. I know that I will probably go back and read a few of the later books again, if not the entire series. I hope that my children will someday read these books. I am happy that I did. Thank you for joining me on this journey and thank you to all of the Potter fans who told me over and over again that I must read these books. You were right.