For the last several years, AP National Writer Allen Breed has taken his daughter, Miana, to the midnight release of the latest Harry Potter book and written a first-person story about the joy and angst of watching Miana and Harry grow up. Miana is 14 now, a rising high schooler and a writer in her own right. She tells readers in her own words what it's meant to grow up with Harry.
WAKE FOREST, North Carolina (AP) -- My generation has grown up with Harry Potter. We've grown attached to him -- whether on purpose or by just hearing Daniel Radcliffe say, "Expecto Patronum!" on-screen -- and we don't want to let him go.
First, we fell in love with the wonderful books based on his adventures and then we fell in love with the movies that brought this story to life. We've grown attached to Harry and his merry band of mischievous pals. We've sympathized with him when he mourned for his parents. We've felt hatred with him when he confronted Malfoy. We've felt happiness with him when he found love.
Now, we're all wondering what "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" -- the final book -- will bring. Will it mean an end to Harry's life at such a young age? Will he triumph over evil?
To me, the end of this series coincides with the ending of middle school -- seeing all your friends go, wondering if you'll ever see them again, crying while you hug those who are gone forever. Losing Harry is just like losing one of my best friends.
My relationship with Harry started so long ago, when I was 8.
At first, I didn't want to read the books because I'm just stubborn like that -- everyone was reading them, so I didn't want to. And then, my mom read me the second one on the way to Kentucky. Yeah, most people read the series in order, but not me: I read the one I have in front of my face at any given moment. After I read "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," I needed more Harry. So I whined in my loud, annoying voice to force my dad to stop and buy the first, second, third and fourth books.
"Don't you want to wait until it comes out in paperback?" my dad asked as I held the fourth book tight.
"NO!" I screamed, walking down the aisle of a bookstore toward the checkout counter. He sighed, shrugging, and followed me with the other three books in his hands.
On the way back from Kentucky, I made my mom read the first one to me while my dad drove. She was my free audio-book, and I wouldn't let her stop reading. Now, I read the books myself because: One, I don't think my mom would be too happy reading all the books in my bookshelf out loud to me; and, two, I enjoy reading a lot more now than I did back then.
Harry has given me a love for books and a love for knowledge that I wouldn't have had without reading the first line of the second book: "Not for the first time, an argument had broken out over breakfast at number four, Privet Drive." He got me to start reading all sorts of different books, and I don't think that I would be as big a fantasy fanatic as I am now without him. Because of Harry, I often stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning, finishing a book that has me hooked. And much to parents' chagrin, I read more than I go outside some days.
Harry also got me writing my own stories, some with my friends and some by myself.
So yes, I have love for Harry. I think everyone does, despite what my guy friends say! And despite criticisms of Harry and his world, he has had a large impact on our own world.
Most of us who've read the Harry Potter series have found ourselves wishing that our principal was more like Dumbledore, or that we had a friend like Ron. The characters, though rooted in fiction, are very relatable and most of us can identify with Harry, Ron and Hermione on some level. The books have created a whole new world that could be right outside our doors, or inside our train stations. My friend and I used to pretend that we'd gotten accepted to Hogwarts, and, sadly, I think a letter from them might have outshone one from Harvard.
And now, letting Harry go might be one of the hardest things we've ever had to do so far. Every year, kids gathered in their local bookstore to welcome the newest adventure from Harry into their lives. This last one will be the most special to everyone: Harry is close to many people's hearts and no one wants to let him go.
Despite the finality it would bring to the series, I certainly don't want Harry to bite the big one. Someone so young shouldn't die, and I've grown too close to him to let him go in such a big way. The ending of the series is enough for me; Harry shouldn't die on top of it.
Even if Harry doesn't survive, the books will live on and be read and reread.
But I'll always miss Harry Potter.