It's Harry Potter Month!
Throughout July Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews and Faith @ GeekyZooGirl are hosting Harry Potter month, and I just couldn't resist signing up and joining in. I mean, come on, it's Harry Potter!
I'm a very proud Ravenclaw this month, and if it weren't so warm I'd be wearing my Ravenclaw scarf to show off my House pride, but if I put it on now I think I'd spontaneously combust.
So this month I'll be posting several Harry Potter themed posts. For those of you who aren't fans of Harry Potter or who just aren't interested in it, I will be posting other things as well but I'm not going to apologise for my Potter enthusiasm. I really love this series.
Within the Potterhead fandom there are a few questions that tend to arise quite regularly, one of which just happens to be: Which of the books is your favourite?
Though I love all the books - I don't dislike any of them - I do have a favourite:
The Order of the Phoenix.
As much as The Goblet of Fire is the book in which the series begins its descent into darkness, it isn't really until The Order of the Phoenix that shit gets real. Harry's coping not only with Voldemort's return and Cedric Diggory's death, but with PTSD, being attacked by dementors, being subsequently expelled from Hogwarts for repelling said dementors, having to go through a trial led by a mentally unhinged politician, being called a liar by the media and half the school when he's cleared of all charges, being tortured by the latest DADA teacher, thinking he and Voldemort might not be so dissimilar after all... Basically, the kid struggles with a lot.
I've seen a few people over the years saying that The Order of the Phoenix is their least favourite of the series - which is fine, by the way, we're all different and we all have different tastes! - but it's always been my favourite. Despite the fact that it's the book in which my favourite character dies.
I'm still not over it.
So, why is The Order of the Phoenix my favourite?
I'm not sure I could sum up everything I love about this particular book in the series in just one blog post, but there is one person in this book that meant it was inevitable it would be my favourite:
Now before you start to worry about my sanity, I can whole-heartedly assure you that I do not like Dolores Umbridge. In fact in terms of villains I probably hate her more than I hate Voldemort, and that's saying something.
What I love about The Order of the Phoenix is how the students fight back when Umbridge takes over Hogwarts. There's something so satisfying about seeing Harry and co. take justice into their own hands, especially when it's clear that nobody else is going to help them, and when I was 15-16 -around the same age as Harry and his friends in Book 5 - this story was just what I needed.
I don't want to turn this into a sob story, but when I was in school I was very lucky in that I was never bullied by any of my fellow students. During my GCSEs, however, I was bullied by a teacher. To this day I still don't know what I did to irritate her so much, and looking back I wish I'd been brave enough to stand up to her and tell her that how she made me feel was not acceptable. It got to the point where I would pretend to be ill so I didn't have to go into school on the days when I had her lessons. It wasn't good.
She seemed to take pleasure in belittling me in front of the rest of the class. She'd punish me for things other students did, knowing that other students had done whatever it was she was dishing out a punishment for, and she never passed a chance to snap at me and make me feel like an idiot. I already had low self-esteem during my teens, and she made me feel so unbelievably small.
The worst thing was there was no one I could tell. Who would the school believe, me or one of their teachers? Eventually I couldn't take it anymore and I broke down in front of my dad, and though I initially didn't want him to for fear it would only make things worse, he rang the school and spoke to my Head of Year. After that she left me alone, to the point that she just passed me on to another teacher, but not before she'd made it seem like it was the lessons I was struggling with, and not her, in front of the whole class.
In summation: she was vile, and I don't know why she became a teacher.
Real life isn't like books. Sometimes the people who wrong us pay and sometimes they don't. I didn't have enough confidence to stand up to that teacher, but Harry and his friends did have enough courage to stand up to Umbridge, and for me reading The Order of the Phoenix feels like justice. When Harry fights his Umbridge, he fights mine, too.