I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 9th grade. I was late to the Quidditch game—mostly because of my own stubbornness in refusing to like anything that was popular. (I was a modern-day hipster before that was a thing.) It’s a shame that I waited so long, really. I loved The Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time, and other adult fantasy books in junior high, but those weren’t things I could talk about with many other pre-teens.
Even with The Lord of the Rings movies being popular, I was still the weird kid who talked about Hobbits ALL THE TIME and how big a crush I had on Billy Boyd.
If Tumblr had existed back then, it would have definitely been my home away from home (especially with the slash!fic ideas I had about Frodo and Sam). All I had, unfortunately, was MySpace and very early blogging platforms. Internet friends weren’t an option for me so I had to rely on face-to-face communications—which stunk for a girl with bad people skills, no mainstream obsessions, and a very small pool of potential friends to draw from.
Harry Potter, though, made a difference.
In high school, I attended a small, home school co-op. (There were about forty other teens when it was at its largest.) Most of the kids there were big nerds, but they were not fangirls or fanboys per se. That made it difficult for me—especially since I was one of the odd kids out who didn’t go to the church where the co-op took place.
It was a very lonely time for me. I went through 9th grade friendless and started 10th grade in the same state. It wasn’t until the 1st semester was well underway that I struck up a conversation about Harry Potter with a girl who had been my fellow outcast that I acquired my first best friend in years.
It was a tough conversation for me to start. Thanks to attending a Christian co-op, I had no idea whether the person sitting next to me would starting lecturing on how evil Harry Potter was or not. (This had happened to me before.) Thankfully, when I asked if she read Harry Potter, she responded with an emphatic yes.
One moment of bravery on my part and I’d made a friend.
FINALLY, I’d found someone who was impatiently waiting for the next book to come out.
FINALLY, I’d found someone who had a crush on older characters (she liked Snape and I was kind of obsessed with Remus and Sirius).
FINALLY, I’d found someone who loved geeky things as much as I loved them.
I’d never had another fangirl friend before and it was fantastic. We wrote fan fiction for each other and squealed over actor castings. We talked about Harry Potter incessantly at school—to the general annoyance of everyone else.
We were still the outcasts of the co-op, but it was okay because I didn’t feel so lonely anymore.
While all my other fandoms had left me feeling lonelier and weirder than everyone else, it was Harry Potter that made me feel a part of something. Later in high school, our third friend would start reading Harry Potter. We’d all go to see the 4th movie together and attend a Deathly Hallows book release event too.
The Harry Potter books themselves kept me company when I was going through bad times, but really, what I treasure most about them is the community and friendships they brought to me.
And to that I say: Thank you J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter.
Image Source: Home of the Nutty