Why Harry Potter Means so Much to Me: An Open Letter to J.K. Rowling

September 06, 2018

Dear J.K. Rowling,

Over two decades ago you published the first book in the Harry Potter series. We're getting old!
I don't exactly remember when I initially read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but I know that someone at church lent it to my brother and I was immediately intrigued (probably because it hadn't been lent to me). I am now 23 years old and I can safely say that nobody else in my family likes your series more than me — and arguably, no one that I personally know does either.

People have known me as the Weird Harry Potter Girl™ for as long as I can remember. In middle school, while going through the super-fun experience of puberty, I found myself comfortable only in Harry Potter tees from Hot Topic and the occasional Gryffindor scarf in the wintertime. Not only that, but Harry Potter gave me something to talk to my peers about. I was shy, awkward, and uncomfortable with who I was (truth be told, sometimes I still am). But people knew that they could turn to me for the answer to trivia questions. People knew that I had seen the movie last night at midnight. People knew something that I liked (a lot), and I knew that I could relate to them because they liked it too.
Despite going to a senior high school with a graduating class of around 1,500 students (this is Texas, people), I was somehow still recognized as the Weird Harry Potter Girl™ and voted "Most Likely to Attend Hogwarts." In 200-something years when my descendants view my high school yearbook, they will recognize me as the coolest ancestor to ever exist ever (probably). I may not be worthy of my own rap musical on Broadway, but at least I can give them a good laugh.

In case you're wondering, my patronus is now a llama, by the way.

During my junior year of college, my sister was killed in a traffic accident. It was shocking, heartbreaking, and unlike anything I had ever experienced. I didn't know what to do with myself. I lost friends, I lost my faith in God, and I lost me. Somewhere deep down (like really deep down at the time), I must've known that I'd be okay. After all, you had unknowingly provided me with comfort, knowledge, and hope through Harry's trials, and therefore through my own. For that, J.K., I am eternally grateful.


Although the first book and movie are a bit of a blur, I do vividly remember Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I was in the second grade when the movie came out, and my father stayed up late with me the night before my family went to see it. He read the book aloud since I refused to watch the movie without having finished it first.
My dad passed away last year. I don't have the best long-term memory, but some of the most significant recollections of him involve reading together, and especially reading Harry Potter. To this day, the second book holds the most special place in my heart. The last time I saw my father, he came to my college commencement ceremony. My parents went to Walmart while they were here, and Dad came back with a shiny 4K copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as a graduation present because he knew just how much your stories mean to me.
We are a Potter family through and through, and every time I read or watch your creations, I feel connected to both him and Julian. So many of my favorite memories of them involve The Boy Who Lived, and, as Harry learned during the Battle of Hogwarts, I'm reminded that they're always close to me.


As a kid, I saw Harry face heartache after heartache, and yet, he persisted. I read over and over again about how the ones who love us never really leave us. I followed along as Harry found hope in the smallest things. I learned the importance of relying on others, and being the type of person that others can rely on.

I didn't know it at the time, but your writing was preparing me to cope with the grief I would soon experience. It provided clarity and meaning during some of the most hopeless moments of my life. Your stories gave me confidence when I couldn't find it anywhere else. And most importantly: your series introduced me to some of my best, life-long friends (who are probably the only ones that are going to read this).

Because of you, I got to be a child. And now, as an adult, I love Harry Potter more than ever.

Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Yours truly,
McKay

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