Join us all summer long for Last Read posts from a long list of talented writers, librarians and readers.
Guest Author Erica O’Rourke writes speculative and paranormal young adult books. Her newest novel, DISSONANCE, is about a girl with the ability to walk between alternate realities, who falls for different versions of the same boy in every world she visits. It will be published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers in July 2014 and is available for pre-order.
When Ryann and Lynne asked me to decide what my last read would be, my answer was immediate. And a little sneaky. Nobody can cheat death, but your last read…that’s a different matter entirely.
The last thing I’d read would be the Harry Potter series – all seven volumes, including the interminable World Quidditch match in Goblet of Fire. I’d want one more go at Harry’s story, from the moment he’s dropped off on the Dursley’s front porch to the moment he watches his children board the Hogwarts Express. I’d want to watch Harry, Ron, and Hermione face down the troll in the girls’ bathroom; to witness Sirius Black and Buckbeak escape, to see Neville Longbottom come into his own. And I’d want to relive every single moment with my family. All five of us piled on the bed together, reading about the Boy Who Lived.
My oldest two girls have read Harry Potter, of course. Rereading the series with them would be a comfort, like a security blanket of shared memories, familiar and warm. My youngest daughter is five – she hasn’t read the books. She only knows that her sisters love Harry and his world, and she wants, desperately, to be as big as they are, to love the things they love. And I would want to make those memories with her, especially if they were the last ones we shared.
I’d make my husband read with us, too. He’s never read Harry Potter. He has, truth be told, very little interest in Harry Potter, or fiction of any sort. But this time, I would make him listen to the story of The Boy Who Lived, because it’s a key part of my children’s lives, and their vocabulary. People who have read the series know what it means to throw a sock at someone; why the Mirror of Erised is dangerous, why you always try to catch the snitch, the importance of a patronus. If I’m going to leave him in charge of our three beautiful, book-loving girls, he needs to know the language they speak.
It’s no secret that the books grow increasingly dark. Harry grieves losses both old and new, he learns the importance of self-sacrifice. Lily Potter’s love protected Harry from Voldemort all those years, the only gift she could give him at the moment of her death. If I was going to leave my family behind, I’d want to read stories that talked about love and loss in such moving and accessible ways. The Harry Potter books would let us talk about what was coming. They would let us grieve together. They would give us more time.
One last read.
That’s the real cheat, of course. It’s not the pages that I would want. It’s the hours spent with the people I love most.