How to Manage Expectations: A Defense of Harry Potter & the Cursed Child

 

It is difficult to measure the impact that Harry Potter had on my love of reading. I was an avid reader long before my father bought Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone (because I bought it in the United States) for us on a trip to Barnes & Noble one weekend in the fall of 2000. At the time I was in fifth grade and read a book a day, at least. Of course, these were books intended for children, such as A Wrinkle in Time, the Dear America diaries, Animorphs, and Goosebumps (to name some of my favorite series growing up). But I do remember Harry being different. I was always excited to read the next installment in one of my series, but after reading Sorcerer’s Stone I did not just feel excited to read Chamber of Secrets; I felt desperate. I needed to know what happened next. The characters did not just appeal to me and the stories weren’t just fun; they struck a chord deep in my childlike soul. I had always believed in magic and now I had proof because the Harry Potter series was magic. It magically turned bookworms from social pariahs to stars because we had met Harry first and we knew what was going to happen next. We had been “in” on the magic long before Warner Bros. Pictures got its hand on it and churned out the first in a series of films that would make JK Rowling one of the richest women in the world and Harry Potter a global sensation. Nine years after the final installment of the Harry Potter series was published, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the world is still in love with “the Boy Who Lived” as proven by sales of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. However, not everyone is utterly in love with this text.

The Cursed Child is a play written by Jack Thorne, JK Rowling, and John Tiffany based on a story by Thorne, so it is understandably not the same as the old Harry Potter books. First off, it is a play and second off it is not originally by JK Rowling. Yet some people seemed to have missed these pretty obvious and important facts, leading to criticism that the writing is not as good and the main characters not as memorable. I did immediately notice a certain change of tone in the writing, it was lighter and more fast-paced and lacked the details Rowling always provided to every scene, but then I thought: this is meant to be seen and heard, not read. I always know not have high hopes for spin-offs, sequels, or things written by different authors, so I saw this as an opportunity to revisit a wonderful world and did not look to get the same feeling as when I was eleven. That’s impossible for multiple reasons, not least of which I am not a pre-teen or teenager anymore. The play has received outstanding reviews so clearly the most important elements come to light when you watch the play. Of course the ticket prices already exceed Hamilton: An American Musical, so any hope of watching the original production is slim, unless it runs for over a year. Nevertheless, the story is quite enjoyable and provides fans with more characters to love (I personally adore Scorpius). One of the merits I see in this work is that it shows us the consequences of many of the actions Potter and his friends took on an emotional, psychological, and interpersonal level. As children and teenagers they had a clear vision of what they had to do and they did it, but as adults in positions of responsibility and duty they have to moderate their impulsiveness. Furthermore, they have to find a way to deal with the trauma of a war. I personally recommend this book to all Harry Potter fans, but I do warn that it’s not a “Harry Potter book”; it’s a new approach to a world full of beloved characters.

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