It sure is something different to review a book that so many tens of millions of people have read, children and adults alike. There are still millions out there who’ve yet to read them, so I need to avoid any spoilers. I also am aware that many/most of the 11 people who will read this post have probably read these books, so have formed opinions of their own. All of this to say...I will keep it short.
This is the book where (redacted) happens. Period. If spoilers weren’t taboo (as they should be), this seven word sentence would be the only description needed of this book. There are a few other relatively minor developments, but everything is minor compared to (redacted), isn’t it? And those other developments are fun and satisfying and set the stage for how readers will envision the characters of the series into adulthood, both the readers’ and the characters’.
When I read this book, 14-15 years ago, I was so upset and disappointed by (redacted) that I didn’t read the seventh and final book of the series until a few years later. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy this sixth book, not at all. I enjoyed Harry and Hermione and friends getting stronger and more powerful and confident, and navigating teenage and young adult issues instead of late-elementary and middle school ones. There wasn’t a lot going on with Hagrid or any of his magical creatures, which was sorely missed. And Rowling’s run-on sentences didn’t dissipate even a little, with some sentences taking up to 12 lines to come to wrap up. (Even Olivia noticed those, and wondered if there wasn’t a better way to write those sentences.)
Similar to her dad, Olivia isn’t chomping at the bit to start the seventh and final book, because of this book’s seminal event. But she wants to see how Hermione and Ginny help save the world, so that’s what we’ll do, starting tomorrow night.
When I open up and read the first paragraph of the seventh book to my daughter tomorrow night, the door begins to close on what will undoubtedly be one of my most cherished memories of being a father. For over 2 years now, nearly every single night at bedtime I have sat in my great-grandmother’s rocking chair in Olivia’s bedroom and read about Harry and Hermione and Dumbledore and the rest of the crew. As I write this, I’m aware how I am - in real time - inscribing in my long-term memory the narrative of what it meant to me to be Olivia’s father, the joys and the challenges. This was the sixth book of a famous and beloved story that meant so much to me, and I got to share it with my precious girl. In 70 years when I’m long gone and Olivia is telling her grandchildren of her dad, I hope she remembers me as “The Dad Who Read”.