I rang in 2005 with two big events on my mind. Yes, this would be the year I turned 18, graduated from high school, and began college, but more importantly, it would be the year of both Star Wars Episode 3 and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
I had been waiting for 2005 ever since Harry and his friends fought the Death Eaters at the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. To fill the waiting period, I did anything I could to learn more about the upcoming installment. I regularly checked www.jkrowling.com for clues and hints as to what the story would be, who would die, and whether or not Ron and Hermione would finally get together. Once the title was released, I had long conversations with my equally interested friends about who might be the Half-Blood Prince and why he (or she) carried such importance so as to get half of a book title. When the cover art appeared online, I analyzed it: was that Ron standing next to Hermione? Why was there a Death Eater’s signal over Hogwarts?
As July 16 approached, I found myself excited on the 16th of any month. I preordered the book from Duttons, made plans with a few friends to have a Harry Potter reading party, and waited as patiently as I could. My birthday rolled around, I picked a college, Star Wars came out, I graduated, and then all of a sudden, it was July 15th.
After last Friday night’s performance of the SMCLO’s My Fair Lady, I rushed over to Duttons just in time to experience some of the celebration. Hundreds of people were milling around in the bookstore courtyard in eager anticipation of midnight. I spotted at least twenty Harry Potters, a few Hermiones, and even a bookseller dressed up as a bogart (a sign around his neck read: “I am a bogart. What do you see?”). A table filled with Harry Potter activities stood in the middle of the crowd, and people were already lined up to get the book when I arrived.
I met my party partner in line just as the book clerks began making rounds passing out New Year’s Eve-esque poppers to pop at midnight. The owner of Duttons (dressed in wizard robes, of course) gave status reports over a loud speaker, alerting us to how many minutes we had until the precious book would be in our hands. He began the final countdown to the cheering crowd, and as he reached one, the sound of poppers joined in happy chorus with the sound of tape being ripped off the shipping boxes.
As soon as the clerk gave me the book, I immediately turned to the last page to see how many pages I had to savor. 652 just didn’t seem sufficient, after being spoiled by the lengthy Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but I’m not one to judge a book by how many pages it has. Once at my friend’s house, we delved into the novel, and I didn’t even stop for a cookie-dough break until I was a good 150 pages into it. I didn’t let myself fall asleep until the 200 page mark, when I could no longer keep my eyes open even though I was entranced by the unfolding story.I awoke the following morning to hear that my friend had finished the entire book before six a.m. and had already been online discussing it with other Harry Potter aficionados. I read sporadically during Saturday, and even brought the novel to that night’s performance of My Fair Lady to read in the pit orchestra. At least six other musicians joined me in reading the book as Eliza perfected her English. Midway through the performance, I finished the 652nd page, and I am proud to say that I held back my tears. My mind raced as I tried to figure out my questions, but there was one I just couldn’t even being to try to figure out: when does book seven come out?