Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany
I admit that I was a little apprehensive about reading another installment of Harry Potter. To begin with, the last scene of Harry and his family standing on Platform 9 and three-quarters is just etched in my mind so perfectly.
And then there are some reviewers who absolutely despised this story. Some people got incredibly vocal about their distaste for seeing Harry as an adult.
After finally diving in and reading Cursed Child, I'm not sure why some people reacted so vehemently. Sure, it's a different format. Reading mainly dialogue is not how I inhaled Harry Potter in the past.
J.K. Rowling's prose truly built images in my mind. I'm a former English teacher, so teaching kids to visualize what they're reading is a key strategy I believe in. And I do visualize a great deal of what I read. But I can still remember reading Sorcerer's Stone for the first time. I picked up this fantasy book quite skeptically. I was convinced that Harry was just some boy wizard fad. And then I read the description of the Leaky Cauldron and the bricks turning on the wall to reveal Diagon Alley. I was hooked. Harry Potter was my new obsession.
This story also hinges upon a plot device that I think some people find objectionable. The best comparison I can think of are the people who don't like the new Star Trek movies. JJ Abrams reset that world's timeline with his reboot. If you're one of the people who don't like the ripple effect of that movie, you may be among the people who don't like Cursed Child.
I truly enjoyed reading about my favorite characters as adults. The story centers around Albus Severus, though, and the difficulty he has being the son of the Boy Who Lived. That's quite the legend to live up to.
Beyond that, I am reticent to give away any plot details. Instead, here are some random pieces of the play that stood out for me.
Draco Malfoy. As an adult, he is a much more complex character. At one point his son Scorpius says, "The Malfoys. The family you can always rely on to make the world a murkier place." Draco is shocked to hear these words.
I love that J.K. Rowling believes in second chances as strongly as she does. I remember truly detesting the Dursleys, as we all did, and I especially despised Dudley. To see him change so dramatically in the final book was gratifying, especially as a teacher.
In the play, Dudley is briefly mentioned. Harry recounts to Albus how Dudley kindly sent him the blanket Harry's mother had wrapped him in on the night of her death. Dudley found it after Aunt Petunia died. With this one small scene, Rowling demonstrates in a meaningful way how the truth positively affected Dudley for life. I like to imagine a happy adult Dudley who volunteers at the local school or as a Big Brother-type role model.
The theme of kindness is not limited to Dudley. Another character learns the value of kindness and friendship.
Then there's the adult Ron. Still the comic-relief. At one point he travels by floo accidentally ending up in the kitchen. He enters the room where he's supposed to be while taking off a stained dinner napkin. Hermione was not happy.
Rowling's story gives us glimpses into people and scenes with fresh perspective. Remember the trolley witch on the Hogwarts Express? Turns out she's made over six million Pumpkin Pasties in the last 190 years. Her real job is security. No one leaves her train while she's on duty.
And finally, we get to see Dumbledore again at Hogwarts in his painting. He tells Harry another perfect Dumbledore quote.