By Jennie Fetzer
Picture this, it’s the early 2000s, and if you’re a millennial or *cusp* Gen-Zer, you’re probably about to get off the bus from school, drink a Capri-Sun juice pouch, and read the Harry Potter series for the third (no, fourth) time through.
A strange reality hit me the other day as I listened to my boyfriend and his mother talk about waiting in line at Barnes&Noble at midnight to buy each new release of the series. I might just be the only twenty-something person on the planet who has never read Harry Potter. I’m going to take it an even drastic step further and admit I’ve never even seen the movies. Correction: I watched the first part of the seventh movie, but that’s only because my brother dragged me to the theater, and when you’re a 12-year-old without a car you’ll do anything to get out of the house.
Let me take a few steps back. It wasn’t my intention to completely ignore this coming-of-age milestone in every child’s life. And I’m not trying to insult you if Harry Potter is your favorite thing to ever exist and J.K Rowling will personally be invited to your wedding. I’m just trying to say that if you had a gun to my head, I couldn’t even give you a synopsis of the storyline. And while a part of me feels a little left out, another part of me also feels weirdly sad and alone.
“You’ve never read Harry Potter?!” someone will shriek at me when they that I can’t relate to a single thing that they were saying about the book. “No,” I have to explain, “I guess I was sheltered as a kid.” I really felt like the last person in the world to not have read them when my 5-year-old cousin showed me his copy of the book over our weekly family Zoom call.
I can’t exactly put my finger on the reason the series never interested me. Part of me thinks it’s because I’m the only person in my family who reads (sad, I know), and therefore a copy was never sitting around my house. Another part just thinks that I have always been the typical “girly-girl”, and books like The Clique or Gossip Girl, that turned into TV caught my attention more.
So here I am, nearly 21, stuck in quarantine thanks to a global pandemic, and completely bored out. of. my. damn. mind. So yesterday, I grabbed my phone and sent a quick text to a friend, “would you binge watch the entire series of Harry Potter with me over video chat?” which was then followed by a response I knew was coming, “only if you read the books first!”
Ten minutes later and you could find me on Amazon, spending $52.16 on all seven books, ready to read the entire series cover to cover. Maybe it’s to feel included, or maybe it’s just because I don’t really have anything else to do. But I’m not going to lie, I’m kind of excited to see what all this hype has been about. If you’re a fan of the series and you’re reading this, hit me up after quarantine to chat about the books. The last person in the world is finally about to read Harry Potter!
Jennie Fetzer is the Long River Review webmaster and a nonfiction panel reader. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.