Harry Potter and the Book That Better Not Ruin It All: Trusting in the Writer

It’s the eve of Harry Potter’s birthday, but the big gift is for us. Tonight at midnight, we’ll be able to get our hands on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child–the script that is essentially the eighth book in the series. For those of you out there who are like me, and quite literally grew up with Harry, this is a very big deal.


I read the first book in high school before anyone knew who Harry was. I still remember when I realized JK Rowling was a female writer, and it was an extremely empowering moment for a young girl who aspired to be a writer herself.

I read the last book as a married woman. By then, everyone knew who Harry was. I stayed up all night and read the book in one sitting, both wanting desperately to know how it ended and not wanting to say goodbye.


I take the Harry Potter series very seriously. I wrote my college senior thesis on Harry as an archetypal hero. I truly believe that the series brought back the golden age of reading.

So it may surprise you to know that I’m not sure I want to read the eighth book.

Rowling gave us a glimpse into the futures of Harry, Ron and Hermione in the epilogue of the final book. And when I closed the book, I was satisfied.

All was well.


I’m not sure that I need to know what life is like for Harry nineteen years later. We live in a world of sequels, trilogies, series…but I believe that sometimes saying the end is the best and strongest decision for a story.
I feel similarly about the upcoming movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which brings us back to the wizarding world–this time in America–long before Harry was born. Leading up to the movie, Rowling has shared information with us about the American version of Hogwarts. I just can’t get excited about it. I think the names sound a little ridiculous, the concepts too strained. It’s like Rowling is trying just a little too hard.

Why is she trying? My husband would say that it all comes down to money, but I disagree with him. I think that sometimes, when you’re a writer, it can be hard to let go. You live the characters, you breathe them and dream about them. And even though the best choice would be to let the story rest, you just can’t. I imagine that as she penned Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, it was a bit like visiting very old, very good friends.


And that is why, ultimately, I will read the eighth book. I’ll take my time with it, not like my marathon nights of reading for books past, and I will trust in the writer. Because I owe it to the little red-haired girl who so looked up to the red-haired Rowling, and I’ll trust her to bring me home to Hogwarts.

Will you be picking up your copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at midnight? Do you enjoy stand alone novels, or do you have to know what happens next?

No matter what quiz I take, I always end up in Hufflepuff.


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Summer Reading

I was always the nerd who loved summer reading assignments in grade school–and I usually blew through them within the first couple of weeks of summer so I could get on to the “good” books. Because, lets face it, 1984 is just not a “good” book when you’re a teenage girl.

Long gone are the days of required reading, but I thought I’d give myself a summer reading list–and even toss in a couple of nonfiction books, since I almost always read fiction. Here’s my list.


 

Perfect by Rachel Joyce

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Eat Dirt by Josh Axe

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin (out in June)

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling (out in July)

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Love Walked in and Belong to Me by Marisa De Los Santos

The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan

The Girls by Emma Cline

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

The Book of Doing and Being by Barnet Bain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

 

What’s on your reading list this summer? Are you or your kiddo doing summer reading?

 

 

 

Perfect Things

I found this quote in a new book I’m reading (Love Walked In by Maria de los Santos–I’m only a chapter or so in, so the story hasn’t evolved too much yet–but her writing style is beautiful). It stuck with me and I chewed on it all day, so I thought I would share.

 It made me think of items and things I’d put on my perfect list. Some I came up with:

  • The beginning of spring when the weather is amazing but it is too early for bugs.
  • The opening bars of Billy Joel’s Piano Man.
  • Twilight. The time of day, not the stupid books.
  • The way babies move their little mouths when they’re asleep.
  • Using your favorite pen.
  • The first bite of ice cream.

What would be on your list of perfect things?

2015 Books in Review

  
At my best count, I read around 85 books this year. I did a bad job of keeping track of them, which is something I want to work on in  2016. The number jumps to well over 100 if you count the re-reads of the year, but I think 80 or so new books in one year is pretty good. Here is my year in review:

Best Book: The Lake House by Kate Morton. I waited a long time and this book was truly worth the wait.

Worst Book: Paper Towns by John Green. This book built…and built…and built…then fell flat on it’s face.

Best New Writer: JR Ingrisano, who published Captain Jolly’s Do Over. 

Best Mystery/Thriller: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. Creepy and incredibly engaging.

Best Chick Lit: Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella. Her books are always an easy, fluffy read when you need a mental break.

Best Twist Ending: Off the Page by Samantha Van Leer and Jodi Picoult. This was a fun YA sequel that answers the question, “what happens to the characters when the book is closed?”

Biggest Book Disappointment: In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. You know how you feel on a cold January day? Like you’ll never be happy or warm again? This is how that book made me feel.

Book I’m Most Excited For in 2016: The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian. It is one of my life goals to finagle an early copy of his next book.

I hope you read some really great books this year, and I hope that your 2016 is full of amazing words. Thanks for making my words some of the ones you read this year!

 

 

 

If You Read One Book This Month: “Captain Jolly’s Do Over” by JR Ingrisano

I’m starting a new column here on Mama Writes Words, highlighting my top “You’ve Gotta Read This” pick for each month. I’m excited to be starting with Captain Jolly’s Do Over by JR Ingrisano.

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In his debut novel, Ingrisano introduces us to Jamie, who is fed up with life, love and the doldrums of every day happenings. In a move all of us have dreamed about once or twice, he runs away to start over. In his case, he lands in the Caribbean, where he becomes the skipper of a ship called “The Do Over”. Over the course of the novel, we get to experience Jamie’s life on the island as well as the unravelling that led him there.

In this second life, Jamie encounters characters that are the very heart and soul of the book. There’s Bonita, who “must have once been something. She was still something, but she looked a bit worn around the edges…in her heart, Bonita was still someone’s princess.” There’s Jason the Bartender, who “understood people. He had a feel for them; he could read them”; and Yvonne, “big and friendly…more like a house-mother for a sorority than the owner of a small, well-run tavern.” They are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the cast that fills Ingrisano’s book. And while I love the characters, what really got me about this story was the journey.

You don’t get to leave your life, crumbled marriage, and children and run off to an island without consequences. You don’t get to reinvent yourself without facing the ghosts of your past. Jamie isn’t immune to these realities, and that grittiness is what makes his story so great.

As always, I don’t do spoilers on my site. You can find out what happens to Jamie by buying the book here…and one lucky person can win a signed copy of the book. All you have to do is make sure you’re following this site and Ingrisano’s site, and leave a comment on this blog answering this question:

If you were going to run away, where would you go?

Contest will run through October 1st. Open to residents of the continental US. Winner will be chosen at random. 

I was given an advanced copy of this novel. All opinions are my own. 

You Need a Time Out

It’s writing workshop time! The prompt this week: List 10 people, places or things you’d like to give a timeout to. 

10: Myself. Being sent to my room alone to think? Yes please.

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9. John Greene, because his books give me too many feels.

8. Ansel.

7. The kiosk workers at the mall who swoop on you as you walk by. I know they’re just going their job, but whoa.

6. The super skinny, super perky sales girl who worked at Destination Maternity back when I was pregnant. Also, the genius who decided to put that particular store next to Victoria Secret in my mall. Both of you, in the corner.

5. The writers of “Let it Go”. Because we still haven’t.

4. Whoever decided take strawberry daiquiri Jelly Belly jelly beans out of circulation.

3. The 85/75 connector in downtown Atlanta, because no matter what time of day it happens to be, there is traffic on it.

2. The party responsible for canceling Firefly.

1. People who consistently mix up “you’re” and “your”. Go sit in that chair and think about things until you’ve got it figured out.

Who would you put in time out?

Books in Twitter Form

Brevity: I don’t have it.

I’ve been really working on my short stories and flash fiction–creating a beginning, middle and an end in one sitting. This week, my challenge was to take popular books and sum them up in 140 characters, a la Twitter. Here is the result. AnneTwitter GoneGirlTweet GreyTwitter HPTwitter HungerGamesTwitter JonesTweet TwilightTwitter

How would you tweet your favorite book?