What’s your contribution to Bibli Reviews? My focus for Bibli Reviews is to review books related to the environment, health, wellness, and personal development.
What are you doing with your life now that you’re done with college? I am currently working for a great company as an environmental project manager. Our job is to apply high level thinking, strategy, and management skills to ensure that contaminated groundwater, soil, and sediment sites are properly remediated. I am also going to graduate school part-time to complete a Masters of Sustainable Engineering at Villanova University.
While not at my full-time job or studying, I am an independent health coach for Beachbody. I first become a coach to work on my own health journey. As I started working out consistently, eating better, and reading personal development, I realized the power that is taking care of yourself. I know have a renewed mindset post-college, a community of like-minded people to support me, and a desire to help others achieve their own health and life goals.
What was the first book you read that your remember loving and why?
Perhaps a cliche amongst millennials but the first book I remember loving was Harry Potter. Bibli Review creator Carly Husick and I would go to the midnight releases, myself always dressed as Hermione, and would stay up as long as we could devouring each page until within a day we had read every chapter. It wasn’t just a book, it was a whole other world where ordinary people with extraordinary gifts proved that love was the greatest magic of all.
What do you want to be when you grow up (if you could be anything – in our universe magic and time travel and everything that is possible exists)?
If I could be anything, I’d be my own boss. My two greatest passions are environmentalism and health and fitness and my goal is to combine them to become the CEO of my own company. I am not sure exactly what this will entail, but the thought is both exciting and slightly terrifying (as all big goals should be!). If you could recommend one book that you’ve read in the last year what would it be?
The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy was a game-changer in my life. It was the first book in the personal development category that I had ever read and it made me realize that you don’t have to be broken to read personal development; it simply means that you have a desire to grow as a person. Because of this book, I realized that small actions completed daily can lead to a pretty freaking amazing life.
What is your favorite thing to do when no one else is around?
I absolutely love to sing and dance! Dance workouts are one of my favorites ways to get in cardio and de-stress BUT put me in a zumba class and I hide in the back. However, put on a dance home workout and you might as well call me Beyonce;)
If you could invite any person living or dead to a dinner party who would it be and how would you act around them?
If I could invite any person to a dinner party it would hands down be Emma Watson. Growing up, Hermione was my favorite character because she loved to read, and like me, had big frizzy brown hair and brown eyes; Belle was my favorite Disney character for the same reasons. Ms. Watson grew to fame by playing Hermione, yet since then has earned a degree from Brown University, is an ambassador for women and human rights, and has looked absolutely fabulous the whole time. She begs the questions, why can’t a woman be smart AND sexy yet still be taken seriously? I like to think I would be cool, calm, and collected while at this dinner party, but that’s TBD. Why should everyone check out Bibli Reviews?
Bibli Reviews is a book review site for millennials written by millennials. Some of us aspire to be writers ourselves, while others just have a great appreciation for a book well written.
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Sherlock meets Charlotte By: Carly E. Husick
I’m a mystery buff. Someone who devoured Nancy Drew books as a kid, who yearned to go on adventures with the Bobbsey Twins and solve mysteries alongside Trixie Belden. This love translated into a full blow obsession with Harry Potter and his constant quests and battles against Lord Voldemort. But for some reason I skipped right over Sherlock Holmes. I knew who he was, I watched the movies and TV shows, feasted on House and the BBC’s Sherlock, but I never picked up the volume of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories that had sat untouched on my bookshelf for so many years. That is, until I read Brittany Cavallaro’s new Sherlockian YA novel A Study in Charlotte. Reading an interpretation that depended so heavily on the original stories demanded that I crack them open so that I could compare and contrast Cavallaro with Doyle.
And, like magic, once I picked up that book of Doyle’s famous stories, I found myself transported in a way that even Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in period dress hadn’t managed. Doyle’s writing, though economical and sparse, was action packed. He managed to fill every one of Watson’s descriptions with enough feeling and depth to make the lack of actual emotional description almost unnoticeable. Doyle had done what so few author’s today manage to do – he’d balanced action with emotion.
In the literary climate of 2017 there is a divide between commercial and literary fiction that is present even in the YA world. Books like The Fault in Our Stars and Thirteen Reasons Why climb the best sellers lists and stay at the top because they tap into the emotional side of the YA market, the side that makes them seem like “acceptable” reading material for the people who consider themselves “literati.” On the other side of this divide are books like The Hunger Gamesor the Divergent series whose pages are action packed but which lack the emotion and poetry of books that are based on feeling above all else.
Sherlock Holmes rides this line perfectly, balancing the two in the same way that something like Harry Potter does, giving equal doses of plot and feeling to its eager readers. Cavallaro’s interpretation of Holmes falls just short of walking this tight rope, tilting more to the side of plot rather than feeling.
The plot of A Study in Charlotte is a convoluted and twisted genealogy tracing down through the generations to reach modern day descendants of Holmes and Watson. In Cavallaro’s Sherlockian Universe Doyle is explained away as Watson’s literary agent, nothing more than a gopher between author and audience. A Study in Charlotte actually follows the story of Jamie Watson, the great great grand something of the original John Watson, who moves from London to Connecticut to start at a boarding school that Charlotte – the descendent of Sherlock Holmes – just happens to attend.
From there Cavallaro spins a story of murder and false accusations, weaving in the original Holmes stories as fodder with which Watson and Holmes are framed, and threading through villainous names like Moriarty for a shock factor that is never quite fulfilled. This, in addition to the heavy plot outweighing the little emotion Cavallaro provides, is where I began to take issue.
What the BBC series, Sherlock, does so flawlessly is merge Doyle’s stories with the present world and while Cavallaro has attempted to do this in her adaptation, by making Jamie and Charlotte the descendants of the famed duo she has already boxed herself in by limiting what should have been a multitude of literary possibilities.
Jamie and Charlotte are forced upon the reader as British transplants in the U.S. and as such the Britishisms in their speech and in Watson’s narration feel stiff and faked. The constant references to steak pies and the usage of words like “clotted” and “bloody” make the characters seem almost cartoonish. Mostly, I just didn’t understand why they had to be British. They were meant to be the descendants of Holmes and Watson – and it would have made perfect sense for their families to have drifted across the pond to the United States at some point.
By making Jamie and Charlotte the original detecting duo’s descendants Cavallaro has robbed herself of creative opportunity. She litters the text with references to the original stories rather than grappling with them head on. The references are often far too coincidental to realistically make sense happening so far removed from the original circumstances. Charlotte’s drug problem, her aptitude for the violin, Jamie’s inability to lie, and the allusions he makes to Afghanistan, where the original Watson was a military doctor. The fact that Charlotte’s lab is called Sciences 442, which is two times the famous address of the original Holmes at 221 B Baker Street, and Jamie’s house mother – Mrs. Dunham – who hovers over him in much the same way that Mrs. Hudson does in the original stories.
Cavallaro has almost made more work for herself by developing the Holmes lineage in this way. She now has a series that must operate within the confines of the family tree she has created. A Study in Charlotte cries out to me as a missed opportunity to rewrite the history of Sherlock Holmes, and in doing so carry on that difficult tradition of balancing emotion and action. If Cavallaro had made Charlotte Holmes the first Holmes and trapped the famous detective in the body of a sixteen-year-old girl exiled to boarding school in Connecticut, her characters would have breathed. The adventures of Watson and Holmes would have come off the page as exhilarating rather than tired, all recorded by a Jamie Watson whose writing wouldn’t have been crushed under the weight of living up to his famous ancestor.
Cavallaro has already done all of the work of reimagining the famous Holmes cases – she’s picked out plot lines and details from the various stories and updated them in fresh and exciting ways. What I don’t understand is why she’s created these barriers in her own imagination. Without them and without forcing her characters to live under the shadows of their famous ancestors there would be so much more room for Jamie and Charlotte to breathe, to come to life, and to solve the mysteries the way Doyle would have wanted.
The second installment in Cavallaro’s series The Last of August hits shelves on February 21st. I, for one, am excited to see where Cavallaro takes this famous duo next. Perhaps she will surprise us and prove that her reimagining really is the best way to tackle Sherlock Holmes. * * *
What’s your contribution to Bibli Reviews? I’m the resident Comic Book “Expert”. Though I really don’t deserve the title. I try and find (relatively) new comic books, graphic novels, and sequential art that I think are the best arguments for the medium. What are you doing with your life now that you’re done with college? For the most part, I’m just trying to answer the above question. However I currently find myself serving in the Americorps and hanging out with really cool kids all day. What was the first book you read that you remember loving and why?
I would have to say Marlfox by Brian Jaques from the Redwall series. I found it at a book fair when I was in fourth grade. It combined two things I absolutely loved--animals and fantasy adventure. It sparked my imagination and made me fall in love with the Redwall series and the fantasy genre in general. What do you want to be when you grow up (if you could be anything – in our universe magic and time travel and everything that is possible exists)? When I was younger, I dreamed of becoming a ghost. Which really sounds kind of morbid actually. I wanted to be detached from the world with the freedom to travel it in an eyeblink--to be a disembodied observer watching the stories of people’s lives unfold all around me with no risk to myself. But an older me would regret not being able to reach out and touch it. This is probably why I settled for being a writer. If you could recommend one book that you’ve read in the last year what would it be? I wholeheartedly recommend The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. I don’t just love it because it’s about the golden age of comic books, but because it’s an incredible novel about the power and powerlessness of escapism and our desire to create art. It’s a great book, so go read it! What is your favorite thing to do when no one else is around?
There’s a lot of talking to myself in bad accents and reimagining myself as numerous characters. In general I like to resemble an insane person when I’m alone. If you could invite any person living or dead to a dinner party who would it be and how would you act around them? Van Gogh, for sure. I think we’d draw each other’s interest. Why should everyone check out Bibli Reviews? Because we’re serving up the best literature you’ve never heard of before. You’ll never lack for exciting new books to read with us!
What’s your contribution to Bibli Reviews? My major contribution is probably my beard. But I’m also here to talk about books, and about words from a perspective of craft as well as thematics. I’ll probably (read: usually) mix in some sociopolitics, because understanding words in the context of the world they’re written in is important.
What are you doing with your life now that you’re done with college? Currently I’m working two restaurant jobs in Frederick, Maryland, because life can be funny, but student debt most certainly is not. I read books, reorganize my desk and shelves, play video games, and spend time with my girlfriend and work friends. I try hard to continue to write for myself.
What was the first book you read that your remember loving and why? I think Stephen King’s Cujo was probably the first book that really pushed me to be a writer. As a kid I loved Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpantsand Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Treehouse, sure, and The Giverby Lois Lowry showed me such tremendous imagination and world building. But Cujo—which I picked up off my father’s recommendation in an airport bookstore when I was maybe thirteen (probably too young)—was utterly terrifying, and showed me a story that was complex and emotional and full of people who made bad choices and had to live with the consequences. I reread it recently, and I think a decent case could be made for it as King’s most literary work.
What do you want to be when you grow up (if you could be anything – in our universe magic and time travel and everything that is possible exists)? I want to be Spider-Man, because Peter Parker is a genuinely amazing human being. Did you know that the Marvel Universe’s God (or the closest proxy they’ve got thereof) has only shown itself to Peter? Not Captain America, not fellow god Thor, not anybody--just Peter Parker, a humble nerd from Queens. Peter’s compulsion to help people in need is practically neurotic, and I admire him so much for that. Yet he’s still so utterly fallible. He’s a fantastic role model. Also his super powers are awesome. If you could recommend one book that you’ve read in the last year what would it be? I re-read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, which I think everybody should read. I wouldn’t call it the anti-war book, but it’s an important anti-war book, as well as a fantastic lesson in minimalist prose and genre-bending. And it’s hilarious (classic Vonnegut).
What is your favorite thing to do when no one else is around? I sing, which almost nobody has ever heard. Or more people have heard than I care to admit, but sometimes I forget people are there (sorry, I really like books and the Internet). I like to sing angry suburban white boy neo-emo-punk. You should look up Modern Baseball. Or Tiger’s Jaw. Jeff Rosenstock. Laura Stevenson (not a male, but still). Get in touch with me if you’d like recommendations.
If you could invite any person living or dead to a dinner party who would it be and how would you act around them? I think that honor might go to David Foster Wallace. I would totally geek out, but I would try to manage that geek-out internally. Whether I’d keep that geek-out internal is another question entirely. But I feel like DFW’s brilliance was just as likely to shine through in casual dinner talk. And really, who wants to slobber all over somebody’s shoes?
Why should everyone check out Bibli Reviews? Because words are important, and impact people each and every day, and the more people we involve in conversations about our words the better. I’ve always hated the false wisdom that actions speak louder than words. What are words, if not action?
What’s your contribution to Bibli Reviews? I’m the creator of Bibli Reviews. Bibli is something I thought up while sitting at my intern desk when I was working in the publicity department of a publishing company, bored out of my mind. It was my first “real job” out of college and while it consisted of mostly mindless work and spreadsheets it did give my mind a chance to wander and to dream up Bibli. I write reviews and think pieces for Bibli. I mostly read YA, though I love all kinds of literature and prose. I think there’s something so raw about books aimed at the Young Adult audience. In addition I am the resident “updater” for the website so I format the site and upload the reviews to it as well as send out annoying texts to my reviewers reminding them when they have reviews due!
What are you doing with your life now that you’re done with college? I spent the summer after college at the Columbia Publishing Program in NYC, thinking that working in publishing would satiate my thirst for reading and writing. I was wrong. After a year working in publishing I decided that it wasn’t the right path for me. Now I’m a middle school debate coach, a Judaic studies teacher, and a tutor in New York City when I’m not writing or watching Netflix.
What was the first book you read that your remember loving and why? The book that let me fall in love with all other books was Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. It’s a fractured fairy tale that turns Cinderella on its head, complete with a curse, evil step sisters, and a sa-woon worthy prince. What I loved most about this book, and what I still love about it (I reread it at least once a year, even today) is that Ella doesn’t need rescuing. The whole premise of the book is that she has to learn how to rescue herself. The prince, Char, is there not as a savior for a helpless ingénue but as a true companion who needs to be rescued just as much as Ella does. They are equals – something that most fairy tales, especially Disney ones, don’t seem to illustrate.
What do you want to be when you grow up (if you could be anything – in our universe magic and time travel and everything that is possible exists)? I want to be a writer more than I’ve ever wanted to be anything in my life. But I also think it would be awesome to be Hermione Granger’s little sister – as long as I also had witchy powers. I think I would’ve been too much of a coward to be Hermione (I’m a Ravenclaw who aspires to have the bravery necessary to be a Gryffindor) but I think I’d have been a pretty kick ass tag-a-long little sister. If you could recommend one book that you’ve read in the last year what would it be? I would recommend Emery Lord’s When We Collided. I wrote a review of it for the site and it really is that good. It examines mental health in a refreshing way and it’s not about boy saving girl or even about girl saving boy, it’s about relationships and family and how sometimes no matter what you do you can't keep the darkness at bay. It truly is a breathtaking and wholly immersive read. Check out my review here.
What is your favorite thing to do when no one else is around? I’m a huge fan of reading books out loud to myself in an awful British accent when no one’s home. The characters don’t even have to be British – I just think most things sound better with an accent. (Though probably not with mine).
If you could invite any person living or dead to a dinner party who would it be and how would you act around them? I would, of course, invite J.K. Rowling. She’s my hero – which means that I don’t know if I could handle meeting her in person. I just think it would be so cool to be in the same room at the same table as her. When I studied abroad in college and we went on a trip to Edinburgh I carried a Harry Potter book everywhere we went just in case I met her randomly. I spent the whole four day trip breathing extra deep breaths because it was the same air she was breathing. In other words if I met her I’m pretty sure I would hyperventilate and blank on all of the questions I wanted to ask her. Why should everyone check out Bibli Reviews? You should check out Bibli reviews because my hope is that it ends up becoming a really cool community of people with a common love. A love of books. My hope is that Bibli will continue to grow as we grow our content and that readers who find the site will be inspired to read books they wouldn’t normally pick up. I’m so excited that we have people reviewing comic books and graphic novels and contemporary poetry and self-help goal oriented books. Bibli really is a space for everyone and for every kind of reader and I’m really excited to see what happens as it grows and develops. Thanks for reading!
What’s your contribution to Bibli Reviews? The name, mostly, haha. Carly and I were talking about doing something like this for a while, but she’s really the driving force around here. I knew she wanted the name to have a clear literary connection and I also thought it would be important to have something short and unique sounding. We were throwing around a couple different words with the prefix “Bibli” in it, so I figured why not. I also contribute reviews, I read across pretty much every genre but have recently been focused a lot on YA fantasy because it feels like home.
What are you doing with your life now that you’re done with college? Oh boy. Immediately after graduating I did the Columbia Publishing Course the same summer as Carly. If you’re interested in getting involved with New York publishing, I’d definitely suggest looking into it or the NYU program. There’s another summer institute in Denver, but I’m not as familiar with it. I worked in publicity and special events at Random House for about 6 months before I decided to move to Portland to be closer to my boyfriend and further away from a million billion strangers. I worked at a company that publishes business to business trade magazines for a while, but that ended up being more of a telemarketing job than anything else. Since then I’ve been volunteering in the children’s room of my local library and will be starting at a brand new bookstore opening in just a few weeks! I’ve always been interested in working in, and potentially one day owning my own, bookstore, so I’m really excited to see where this new adventure takes me!
What was the first book you read that your remember loving and why? I know it’s the stereotypical answer, but I’d have to say Harry Potter. In my defense, I read it in Kindergarten so I don’t really remember much before it. I loved the idea of a world parallel to my own, of the possibility of magic right beyond my fingertips. More than the characters or the stories, I fell in love with Hogwarts and the entire magical society.
Two other books come to mind which I think are a little more unique to my experiences.
The first is The Big Book of Why, which is pretty much the reason I learned how to read so young. I must’ve been three or four and I think I set a world record of asking “Why?” I didn’t just want to know what something was or how it functioned, but I needed to know why it did that. My parents being my parents would plop me down with this big white bound tome with more pages than any other book ever created. They’d help me look up what I was asking about and taught me how to figure out the answer. It was like pre-Google, I loved the exploration and the satisfaction of finding out an answer (mostly) on my own.
The second is Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel. It was a book within a book, a collection of all of the stories being told to these little mouse children to help them fall asleep, and they got surprisingly surreal. My favorite was about this one mouse who wanted to visit their grandmother but it was a very long journey and all of his forms of transportation kept failing until finally he was walking without any shoes and his feet got so tired he had to buy new feet. There was a whole stand with just a bunch of mouse feet, and he just popped them on like he had put on his new sneakers before that. It seemed like the most logical thing in the world to me.
What do you want to be when you grow up (if you could be anything – in our universe magic and time travel and everything that is possible exists)? Everything. Is everything an answer? There are just so many cool things out there, I want to see and do it all. So yes, if I could magically just be able to complete switch my career every year or so without having to worry about finding someone to employ me that would be awesome. I don’t even necessarily want to be an expert at everything either, I think it would be more fun to learn and explore—but also skip the whole “being someone’s glorified secretary” part of being an assistant because that’s boring.
If you could recommend one book that you’ve read in the last year what would it be? Clearly I’m no good at picking just one thing, so I’m just going to keep cheating because I’m answering these questions by email and they can’t yell at me for cheating.
First recommendation (although I technically read it a little over a year ago now, but if you’re going to cheat why limit yourself?) is When Breath Becomes Airby Paul Kalanithi. I am admittedly very biased because this book was my baby at Random House. I did little more than mail out copies and confirm Lucy’s event and interview schedule, but I felt a deep and personal responsibility for it none the less. It’s a memoir published posthumously written by a man who was diagnosed with late stage cancer right as he was finishing his residency to become a neurosurgeon. He had always planned on becoming a writer later in life, he studied English before finally accepting he wanted to be a doctor, and so when he realized that his concept of “later” had been greatly condensed he started writing. The most amazing part of it all, beyond his enchanting prose, is that he didn’t go off on some grand adventure when he realized he was going to die. He kept living his life—he graduated, had a daughter—because he was already living the life he always wanted. That’s the mentality I’ve worked to have ever since, doing everything you can to live the life you want.
The other is The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore, which is totally different from most things I read. It’s historical fiction focused around the light bulb patent war between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison told from the perspective of Westinghouse’s lawyer, Paul Cravath. I’ve never really thought about how amazing that time period is, it’s so easy to take electricity for granted now but at that point that level of technology was paramount to magic. It’s a bit of a mystery too, following around Paul as he tries to win an impossible legal battle. Nikola Tesla is a major character in the novel and is just such a fascinating person, part of me would love to be able to process the world the way he did, but he also has a quiet tragicness to him.
What is your favorite thing to do when no one else is around? Probably dance and sing. I don’t do it as much now that I live in an apartment, but growing up my favorite part about being home alone was dancing extravagantly and singing musicals as loud as I wanted. I absolutely love theater, performing and attending, but I was never really accepted into that clique in high school so I was always too nervous to pursue it. At the time I always felt like I wasn’t given my shot at showing people what I could do, but in actuality I know I was just never as good as the other kids.
If you could invite any person living or dead to a dinner party who would it be and how would you act around them? Because I’m still thinking about The Last Days of Night part of me wants to say Tesla, but he would mostly hate a dinner party. He mostly just ate crackers and water and lived in his lab, he was that level of super genius.
In actuality… probably Terry Pratchett. I was obsessed with his books growing up, his humor and voice. He seems like he was such a wonderful person, I was heartbroken when they first announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, which happened to be around the same time for my grandmother. I think I’d be crazy nervous at first, but I know he would be great at making me comfortable and just talking about random things. I would love to have him sign my copy of Good Omens, but when Neil Gaiman signed it he said Terry would’ve insisted on ripping out the page and burning it.
Why should everyone check out Bibli Reviews?
I think we’re a really diverse team, we all read a lot of different things and have our own ways of thinking about things, so I think we have something for everyone. Plus, it’s important to push your boundaries when it comes to books, expose yourself to something you’ve never even thought of reading because you’ll probably end up surprising yourself.
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Why Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is more than just a play. (Don’t worry I’m #keepingthesecrets – no spoilers lie ahead.) By: Carly E. Husick
Less than three weeks ago Caitlin (@livingfitngreen) and I were sitting in the Palace Theatre in London, England enthralled by the masterpiece being set forth on the stage before us. What had started out as a joking aside between lifelong friends had morphed into an actual trip across the proverbial “pond.”
I’d heard, while planning my trip, from countless friends about their disappointment with the published script for the eighth Harry Potter story – for that’s what it is, the next “story”, the next “installment”, but certainly not, in my opinion, the next “book”. To be a Harry Potter book the words on those pages must have flowed from J.K. Rowling’s own hand – though she helped birth the story, the words themselves were not a labor of her love but were rather written by someone else (in this case Jack Thorne).
So many people told me of their disappointment with the script. It was a lame story. The characters didn’t seem right. How could Hermione be black? They’d open their mouths to continue their diatribe only to be paused by me. “No spoilers” became my constant refrain. Caitlin and I had agreed that we would see the show knowing nothing of the plot or the characters that we didn’t already know from our childhood spent immersed in the wonderful universe created for us by Rowling.
I managed to sit there, in the theatre, unaware of what was to come save for one very small spoiler that Buzzfeed had plastered across my Facebook wall. (Thanks Buzzfeed). What followed was a two part masterpiece that made me laugh and cry and had my heart soaring in my chest and plummeting to the depths of my stomach at turns. Though the words hadn’t flowed from Rowling herself, the emotion rang true to everything Harry Potter has always stood for. The actors and the staging struck such a chord that the audience collectively gasped and laughed and cried, awed by the wonder of this world brought to life on a stage without the CGI and special effects of the movies.
What’s important to know about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is that it is a play. It is not a book. Shakespeare was not meant to be read but to be witnessed, and for this story, this play, the same is true. I read the script on the plane ride back to New York, flipping through the pages of dialogue, laughing to myself. I felt the same emotion in the pages of the script that I had sitting in the theatre. But here’s what’s important – I felt those same emotions because of what I had witnessed eight days before and only because of what I had witnessed.
You can’t possibly know the hilarity that is Scorpius Malfoy until you’ve seen what Anthony Boyle does with him on that stage. The way he laughs, his mannerisms, the little ditties he sings to himself. You can’t possibly understand the strained and yet loving relationship between Harry Potter and his son Albus until you’ve witnessed the way that Jamie Parker as Harry looks at Sam Clemmett as Albus. And you cannot begin to understand the warmth that blooms in the pit of your stomach and travels up your esophagus as you look at a grown Draco Malfoy sick with worry about his son until you watch Alex Price pace around the headmaster’s office.
The choices these actors have made are what make the play the wonder it is. Their brilliant conceptions of these characters along with the ingenious staging and slight of hand that makes magic come to life before your very eyes is what allows The Cursed Child to be an extension of the world we all grew up loving.
After watching the play and then reading the script it is easy to understand why so many have been hesitant to adopt this latest extension of the world into the “canon” they have so championed. What right, they wonder, does J.K. Rowling have to keep adding and adding and pulling at these characters and this world that so many of us feel is our own?
J.K. Rowling gives me much pause, both as someone who one day wishes to be an author, and as a student of Philosophy. I firmly believe that once an author has written a work and released it to the world it is no longer theirs to claim. It becomes the work of the audience open for interpretation.
This is why I have never cared for English classes, why should it matter what Shakespeare meant when this is what the text means to me? But here’s the thing about J.K. Rowling – I seem unable to fault her – even though she constantly dips back into her own work and interprets it for us. Of course Dumbledore was gay. Of course Hermione could be black. I seem unable to find fault with the woman who basically created and defined my childhood.
Maybe it is because she has created more than a book – she has created a universe. The Potterverse has a working government and Rowling herself seems to have ceaseless knowledge of every character, creature, and spell within it. As readers and members of the Potterverse we are all clamoring for more insight.
We waited with baited breath on our eleventh birthdays for those Hogwarts letters (though we would have actually gone to Ilvermorny – but whatever…). We feel allegiance to different houses, and characterize each other as such. (I was heartbroken upon arriving at college to be told that despite my love for all things Gryffindor I was actually a through and through Ravenclaw – and how had I not seen that?) Harry Potter was for many of us the definition of childhood.
For older generations it was the books from the beginning. For mine it was jumping on the bandwagon as soon as I was deemed old enough to read the books. And it felt like the world heaving a great sigh when the final movie came out during the year of my own high school graduation. Like the universe had conspired to wrap up my childhood with one final Potter film.
My generation grew up going to the midnight releases. Dressing up in black robes and witches hats and pulling all-nighters to read the new books before anyone could ruin them for us. (I did book number seven in nine and a half hours thank you very much). Harry Potter was “it”. At the release of the fifth book I got on the news for telling an on-air reporter that I’d kick him if he ruined the ending of the book. My parents recorded the piece and still trot it out anytime they want to embarrass me. There I am standing in all of my ten-year-old glory with glow in the dark Potter glasses and an eye-liner lightning scar on my forehead threatening a news reporter with bodily harm.
That was my world. And in many ways it still is. Harry Potter has defined me for as long as I can remember. My Potter obsession has spawned countless trips to amusement parks and to see the movie actors in plays. I own the books in several languages and am slowly but surely collecting all of them in the British English. I studied abroad at Cambridge because it was the closest I could get to Hogwarts.
I’m excited to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – and will probably buy the script – because as my father says “if they took a bag of shit slapped a Harry Potter logo and J.K. Rowling’s name on it,” I’d buy it. So despite my philosophical beliefs that an author’s ownership of her own work ends upon publication, I am willing to believe anything J.K. Rowling says. Her world gave me a childhood. It inspired me to read and to write and to realize what it is I want to do most with my life. And that is why Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is so very important.
To those who disparage the play after having only read the script: I encourage you to think again. I encourage you to realize that you don’t have enough information from which draw that negative conclusion.
What Rowling and her writing partners have created on that stage in the Palace Theatre in London is magic in its purest form because there is no movie magic involved. It is all one hundred percent real. The stage has done what the cinema could not – it has made magic in its most pure form possible.
And it has allowed Harry Potter and his friends to live on in all of us.