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Straight Talk TNT: Harry Potter — a hero in a hero-less world

By: Lauren Forcella
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Dear Straight Talk: Harry Potter was such a sensation for so many young people who grew up on the books and then the movies.
I would love to hear what Harry Potter meant to them, and if they think it changed the way they think about the world.

~ Cynthia Hartman, Sand City, Calif.

Lara, 20, Concord:
Harry Potter and I were the same age. We grew up together, starting right when childhood magic and Santa Claus had disappeared.
I think it saved me from growing up too fast. Lots of us secretly pretend that the Harry Potter world is real. In our materialistic world, it’s important to have magic.
The books also address race, religion and corruption. “We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.”~ J. K. Rowling via Kingsley Shaklebolt.

Christina, 19, Marysville: Harry taught me that evil is the absence of love. I’ve read the books five times each — they are new each time.

Akasha, 17, Sacramento: The best thing for me was Harry’s evolving understanding of death.
I lost a brother right after book 7 came out. Harry overcame his fear of death by calling his deceased loved ones to surround him with love.
Rowling was spot on that people from the other side can be called when you need them. That they’re “gone” is an illusion. While I avoid danger, death is no longer something I fear.

Gregg, 20, Los Angeles: I read all of Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and George R. R. Martin. Harry Potter hooked me from the first sentence.
Besides the sci-fi, the books mirrored the social aspects of real high school: sports, girls, fights with friends, ego, image, right and wrong. It was easy to place yourself in a “house” and be part of the story.

Elise, 20, Orlando, Florida: I cannot tell you how much Harry Potter has been a part of my life!
The series definitely helped my imagination and creativity. It also played a big role in introducing me to reading. The world holds so much more than we can comprehend. There is definitely magic out there, you just have to find it.

Lennon, 24, Fair Oaks: Harry Potter didn’t change my worldview. The books are fairytale-like, the characters archetypal.
Except for Snape, you can peg a character “good” or “bad” the second they’re introduced. Young people got swept up, not unlike during the rise of rock ‘n’ roll. But Harry Potter doesn’t inspire complex thought like “Imagine” or “Satisfaction.” It’s good overcoming evil, not a youthful cry for change.

Dear Cynthia: The books truly were a phenomenon. Almost every member of this generation devoured them multiple times — many read little else.
I’m grateful that in these times of few heroes, even fewer unifying missions, and a dramatic loss of traditional childhood, that this generation was able to grow up with a collective fairytale of good triumphing over evil.
Humans crave unified purpose and heroes to inspire them.
According to generational theory, this generation is a “hero” generation. Maybe that’s why they craved Harry Potter off the charts.

~ Lauren 

For more discussion, to ask a question, or inquire about being a youth panelist, visit http://www.straighttalkTNT.com or write POB 963 Fair Oaks, CA 95628.

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More from LAUREN FORCELLA
I was one of those “Muggles” who thought the books were superficial and unworthy of my precious time.

That was until I was catapulted into reading all seven at once. I read them as a tribute to my son, Jarrad, who was killed days after book 7 came out. book 7 was released July 21, 2007 and Jarrad died August 4, 2007.

He, and my other kids, too, read the series over and over until the pages fell out, literally. (And yes, he did read Book 7; he couldn’t depart before doing that!) And his friends read many passages to him again as he lay there between worlds. The nature and illusion of death was a major theme of book 7 and his friends were helped immensely by those passages.

Over the years, Jarrad implored me repeatedly to read the books. And so, in those first painful weeks after he left this world, and everyone had gone home, I followed his instructions and escaped into this other world he loved so much.

I was not disappointed! They rank among my favorite books now, too! The following year, to “get through” his first anniversary, I read them all again. And here we are again at August 4; another circle passed. Jay, this column’s for you.