14 September 2009

Harry Potter was a highly unusual boy.

I grew up with the Harry Potter series. It was an interesting relationship; I literally grew up with Harry and his friends. From the minute I started reading the first book, I couldn't put them down, and I'm not sure why. I was very young when the first one(s) came out, and I think that I quickly gained an emotional connection with the characters, so I always wanted to know what was next. The last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, came out just before I started college, and I still loved it.

Reading the third one, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, out of context as a junior in college, I'm not sure if it will ever have that same appeal again. I have fought for these books continuously, telling people that they will be classics, that they will be books our children read and their children read and on and on. I don't think I feel the same way anymore. Once, again, there's something to be said for literally growing up with Harry.

At the time, we had defined a YA novel as a novel in which an adolescent has a realization or a moment of epiphany relating to a past struggle (I am, of course, paraphrasing). I think that one could easily make an arguement for any of the Harry Potter novels being considered YA under that definition (some fit better than others). I chose this one because I think there are a lot of epiphany moments, the most prominent being when Harry "sees" his dad across the pond, and the realization that follows that moment (trying to explain without a spoiler).

I remember having a discussion (though I don't recall if it was in or outside of class) about the way that YA novels aren't easy to identify because they basically just have that "YA tone." I think that's the only thing, logistically, the Harry Potter series is missing; it's essentially an epic saga of a boy dealing with whatever life throws at him. Do I think it's teaching material? Not at all, but I do think that it would be worth having in a classroom as an option.