I was 11 when I had my first Harry Potter experience. It was about a year after Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in the United States. I had heard about Harry Potter before but it took until my grandmother handing me the Sorcerer’s Stone that I decided to read it myself. I remember reading the first chapter and thinking what the…? It took me a few days and I eventually decided to go back to it.
Harry Potter transformed my 11-year-old-life. My grandmother died later that year and my best friend moved to Philadelphia which is tough stuff for a typical eleven year old. Harry let me escape from all of that. It took only the day of my grandmothers funeral and the day after it to read Chamber of Secrets.
Fast forward six years: I had Deathly Hallows (the last book of the Harry Potter series) pre-ordered, but unfortunately had to work the day it came out. My mother, being the wonderful person that she is, picked up my copy and brought it to me at work. On my half hour lunch break I locked myself in my car and read as much as I possibly could. I didn’t sleep that night, I didn’t eat dinner, my boyfriend called me concerned that he hadn’t heard from me all day. I was addicted.
I still am. After the series finished, I got in the habit of just picking up one of the later books and starting to read at a later point. I brought the whole series in hardcover with me during my freshman year of college just to have them close by. Harry Potter taught me a lot about life, friendship, and snogging….
But I think what Harry Potter provided for me was a world that I could escape to. Escape from a death that I was too young to comprehend or to escape from the anxiety of choosing a college hours away from my high school boyfriend. Escapes are what I believe every good young adult fiction novel provides.
The Hunger Games is no exception when it comes to youth today. Growing up in the 10′s is difficult, just as it was at the turn of the century, and for years to come it will always be a challenge. We are lucky to have characters like Harry and Katniss who have the ability to bring us out of our own worlds but are so much a part of us on many levels.
If Harry can fight (and defeat) the most evil wizard who ever lived every school year, and Katniss can start, finish, and survive a revolution, both before the age of 18, it gives me hope that anyone can make it through high school no matter what the circumstances. The Harry Potter and The Hunger Games series both teach us that hope is our biggest asset in life. Though Harry and Katniss may not be real, that hope is as real as we are.