It's only 62 hours -- or so my sister informs me. Although by the time I finish writing this, it will probably be considerably less. 62 precious hours until the next and last installment of the Harry Potter series hits the street. We met him as an infant years ago. In my family's case, in 2000, just before Goblet of Fire was published. We have followed him ever since--through many harrowing and perilous adventures.
I enjoy the books and have participated in the family read-aloud as each new book has been published. (The family rule is no one may read the new book on his/her own until the family has first read the book together.) However, my dear children are the real fans. They have read the books countless times, listened to the books-on-tape repeatedly, written theories on how the Dark Lord will ultimately be defeated (because certainly he must!) and attended local camps where they were able to dress up in brilliant purple and blue hooded cloaks and work science experiments which were supposed to be magic.
Fantasy as a general rule is not my genre. I can read almost anything, but fantastical stories generally leave me cold. Probably because I have so little imagination...or is it too much?
But Harry Potter is different. J.K.Rowling is the creme-de-la-creme of writers. She weaves a tale with humor, irony, subtle twists, recognizable and memorable characters, and plots that are second to none. I have never run across such a fine author and I do know and love books.
All that said, I have to put in my plug for my favorite of all her characters. And to do this, I will introduce her in Rowling's own words,
'She had straggly, waist-length, dirty-blond hair, very pale eyebrows, and protuberant eyes that gave her a permanently surprised look. Harry knew at once why Neville had chosen to pass this compartment by. The girl gave off an aura of distinct dottiness. Perhaps it was the fact that she had stuck her wand behind her left ear for safekeeping, or that she had chosen to wear a necklace of butterbeer caps, or that she was reading a magazine upside down.'
Luna isn't a main character. In fact, she isn't even introduced until Book 5. More's the pity because she's absolutely charming! She's quiet, unassuming, doesn't take herself or anyone else seriously, yet has a -- if you'll forgive the pun -- a spell-binding effect on Harry. No, she doesn't become his girlfriend in any sense of the word. But twice in Book 5 she has a calming and comforting effect on Harry which no one else, including his closest friends, is able to exert. Luna's simple faith that she will one day be reunited with her deceased mother is an inspiration to Harry who has not only lost both his parents but also just watched his godfather die.
Her name is also no accident. Rowling follows in the tradition of all good British authors, in that a character's name is a clear indication of personality and temperament. Luna is Love personified and she is Good. As such, she is the frequent target of her schoolmates' pranks. They hide her things and call her names, including, "Loony," all of which she takes in stride. She is sweet-natured, and yes, a little "loony", but then when I think about it, if "Love" and "Goodness" could be personified, they might just appear a little loony.
So the countdown marches on. And while everyone else will be watching Harry and wondering how he will defeat the Evil Dark Lord and save the Magical Community, I will be also keeping an eye out for a simple little girl with dirty-blond hair who no one pays much attention to...until she says something so strange they can't help noticing her. Way to go Luna!