Harry Potter, through different eyes - no spoilers

J can be a downright pain in the arse sometimes, but then there are moments when you think 'yep, this is what being a parent is all about'.  He and I share common reading interests occasionally - one of the most perfect moments of my life was talking to him about Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath (he studied Ted Hughes for English).  He doesn't particularly like Shakespeare, he thinks the Bard is over-rated, but at least we can discuss his works rationally.  He, like most of his generation, is a very critical reader of the media that surrounds him.

We are currently duelling over the current Harry Potter.  He read some yesterday, I read more today.  He had to read more tonight, and now is about half way through.  There have been criticisms of this latest book, too dark, won't bring in the young audience etc etc.  J read the first book when he was about 12.  He likes the fact that the themes grow with the reader.  He said to me tonight that he is thoroughly enjoying the aspect that Rowling is now exploring the deeper, psychological elements of the characters as they too grow older, experiencing the burdens of 'teenage angst', and other emotions that we all have to face as we grow towards adulthood.  J commented that he was very pleased that Rowling had resisted the temptation to keep her characters innocent and naive, appealing to a younger audience.  From J's comments it seems that Rowling has stayed faithful to her 'first' readers, writing stories that grow with them. 

Those are the moments I cherish, a fractured conversation, a brief connection, a shared thought.  Rowling may have her critics but I wholeheartedly thank her for creating something that my son and I can share, discuss and enjoy together.

  • Current Mood: grateful grateful
That's excellent!

I'm just contemplating starting to read D the first book -- chapter every night sort of thing.
Oh, definitely start reading it to him. Up until "The Philosopher's Stone", J had not done much major reading - Goosebumps, Animorphs were about it. Harry Potter lead him to Philip Pullman and the Dark Materials Trilogy, and also an Australian author John Marsden, and his Tomorrow When The War Began series - he started looking for stories that were more complex, deeper. Although I have to admit it was I who researched the books - read articles etc, and in the case of the Tomorrow series, read them first. Stupidly I worried about the representation of teenage sex in the third or fourth Tomorrow book and held off giving them to J to read, but took for granted the depiction of violence in the books. One epiphany later, I realised that Marsden was dealing with issues that J needed to read about, and how stupid was I worrying about the representation of a caring sexual relationship, and disregarding the violence - we become so immured by violence that it becomes invisible to us. J was probably 13 when I gave the books to him - he thoroughly enjoyed them all (7 in the series). I'm not suggesting that any of these books are suitable for D just now, but I think the introduction to Harry Potter leads to good things bookwise.
Well, all I can say is that you are a very caring and conscientious mother and J is lucky to have you.
Thank you for saying that - not sure how true it is, but I give it my best shot. That's all we really can do, try our best and hope it all turns out OK in the end.
I agree wholehearted, and posted something similar on Monday. BIB and I have been talking HP all week, and anything that can keep the communications lines open with an teenaged boy is to be praised. I think a lot of the adults on lj who are critiquing the HP series as if it is great literature are missing the point. I mean, if you over analyzed Little Women or Anne of Green Gables, you would mean the point that it is a children's classic (Huckleberry Finn, however, is a classic full stop IMO).

Kassto, I think reading HP is a great idea. I did that with BIB when he was 7 and the next thing I knew he was grabbing the book and reading it by himself.
I certainly didn't have the ability to critically analyse Trixie Belden or The Famous Five, or any of the other books I read, but I did know one thing - I loved reading them. Great children's literature doesn't have to be great art. Some of the Potter books could have done with a harsh editor unfazed by the popularity and success of one Ms Rowling, but 10 million books (or whatever the number for HBP is now) sold means something.

As I just commented to Kassto, one of the best things about the Potter books is that it sent J searching for books with 'more' to them - he loved Pullman's Dark Material books, and John Mardsen's "Tomorrow When The War Began" series, and now at 18 years of age, took himself off to bed at 8:30pm last night so he could read more Potter. Now that is priceless!!
Thanks, I'll look out for the John Marsden books for BIB. He also was early to bed and early to rise so he could read. Snort.

I was moaning to
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Thanks, I'll look out for the John Marsden books for BIB. He also was early to bed and early to rise so he could read. Snort.

I was moaning to <lj-user="chase820"> about Rowling's inability to write realistic teenaged sex. I don't mean in an ick adult fanfic way, I mean in the way that the much-maligned Judy Blume wrote about it 30 years ago in less conservative times. Did you ever read "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" or "Then Again, Maybe I Won't" when you were a kid? The latter was the first time I had ever read about a fictional character masturbating. What a relief- I wasn't alone! I would throw such books at BIB now, he is so much in the throes of adolescence, and although we are pretty hip and with-it parents (BIB and SG got the drugs talk last night, a propos of the 'adult' Simpsons eps), most of it he won't discuss with me or PG.
Don't know whether you read my comment to Kassto, but re the Marsden books, I read them initially to make sure they were 'OK' for J to read (anal, or what - he was about 13 I think). In the third or fourth book two of the teenage characters have sex (Marsden handles this topic very well in the series, well I thought so anyway - some stay together, some can't deal etc etc) - I went Whoa, and didn't hand the books to J. Then I started thinking about it - brief book scenario - group of teenagers go camping to isolated spot for weekend. While away Australia is invaded (probably Indonesia, but country never mentioned - have read various critiques of using the 'Asian other' as the invading force, but realistically it worked for me, but I digress). Our little band of teenagers become a thorn in the side of the invading forces as they become their own little terrorist cell - interesting look at group dynamics as they muddle their way through - and like all really good youth novels, a lot of the adults they come across are irritating, pompous idiots who don't think 'children' can help at all! So the group is involved in various violent attacks on the invaders - here I am worrying about a realistic account of sex, and disregarding the violence, and stopping J from reading some excellent books. After my epiphany I immediately gave the books to J - he thoroughly enjoyed them. Marsden is quite a good teen writer - Dear Miffy, I think it's called, deals with youth suicide.

Know of Judy Blume - think she was just 'arriving' on the scene when I was in Year 11 or 12. I was into Lord of the Rings, John Wyndham etc etc, not so much the girl teenage books.

J doesn't talk to me about 'sex' stuff either ;).
I don't think most of the books I adored as a young 'un would pass the critical test. Same with some of the ones I love now!

D talks to me about sex! He's at the pre-embarrassment age. He told me that when he grows up he's going to ``mate with'' A, his little female friend at school. I didn't know whether to laugh or to go, oh shit, I hope he doesn't say that to her, and then her go and tell her parents...
OK, I've picked myself up off the floor now - not sure how far that line will get D as he gets older, probably as far as the nearest flat surface when he's pushed by a peeved young woman, or maybe the caveman tactics will work - "me man", ::thumps chest::, "you woman" "WE MATE!!!" I think I'm having a flashback to some BeerBuffy naughty fics, going away now ;).