Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the day “September 24, 2011”

Goodbye Harry Potter

Dear Harry,

It’s been a while and I know that it’s my turn. We saw each other back in July and I knew in my heart (and also because J. K. Rowlings sounded pretty adamant) that this would be the last time we meet. I know there is an extravagant theme park somewhere, but I’m only a few hours on the I-5 from Disneyland, and for a family on a single income, it might as well be the last stop on the Hogwarts Express.

I actually began to make notes for a sequel, a story of you ten years down the line, but you’re not my genre and just one minute of the ensuing lawsuit will probably cost more than the entrance to your theme park. And if I am honest, and I think you always knew this in your heart, that you were – well – just not my genre.

I write political fiction, holding the torch for some political injustice and you just cut right to the chase of right and wrong, of the battle between friendship and greed. We were never meant to last. But still, Harry, I need to thank you.

In a world of senseless video games, three-minute You Tube song videos, 140 letter tweets, and texting abbreviations, you made 500-page tomes not only popular, but a rite-of-passage. In twenty years time when my nest is empty (I know it will happen a lot quicker than that, you don’t have to remind me!) and I look back at my happy little family, I will remember:

– lying on the big bed reading the stories to my boys.

– the wonder of seeing my oldest learn to read and read faster and faster as he held the latest book in his hand.

– seeing my youngest struggle through two pages of Harry Potter 1 when it was way above his reading level and sighing when he saw that there are still another 318 pages.

– the excitement building up to the release of a new book or movie (I think these were the only books we bought new and in hardcover).

– the annual family Potterfest – several days of TV dinners watching the movies and then snuggling on the love seat in pj’s to keep watching ’cause dinner can only be so many courses.

– the discussions about good and evil, romance, and death.

So this is the end, Harry, the final letter. I don’t expect a reply. You always delivered in the past, but I got the message as I sat in the movie theater this summer. It’s over. We had a good run, learned a lot together, laughed, loved and cried and, well, we’ll always have the memories, Harry. I’ll think of you every time I look at the bookshelf.

And do thank Joanne when you next see her. I guess without her we would never have met.

Your Friend,


p.s.  there are many magical moments in parenting, Harry, without the use of a wand (though sometimes I rather fancy it might help!).


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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