SO YOU WANT TO BE … THE ULTIMATE HARRY POTTER FAN?
Ayah Abdul-Rauf is under Harry Potter’s spell
By JACKIE HOERMANN
The Kansas City Star
JIM BARCUS | The Kansas City Star“I’m a big art journaler,” Ayah Abdul-Rauf says. “When other girls were making journals for boy bands, I did mine for Harry Potter.”
Ayah Abdul-Rauf has sewed costumes, thrown parties, written essays, burned secret pacts, created clubs, made cakes and willingly deterred the affections of teenage boys, all for the love of Harry Potter.
Need we say more?
We have to. There’s almost too much to say about an 18-year-old who has been reading J.K. Rowling’s novels since she was 7.
Like most fans, Abdul-Rauf has read all seven books. Unlike most, she’s reread them — including some of the British and French editions — many times.
“Maybe I took it too far when I read the fifth book 11 times,” she says of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “but it’s my favorite.”
She typically reads 40 books at a time. Her home library includes around 800 titles.
In a world of short attention spans and fast-fading phenomena, these books continue to hold teenagers in their grasp. Some more so than others.
“He’s a hero, and I love heroes. I identified with his maturation process, his sense of humor and the conflicts he had and how he dealt with them,” she said.
Like Potter, Abdul-Rauf’s teenage years have been challenging. She spent part of high school at the Barstow School, where she created and served as president of Potterverse, a club for Potter fans. But the traditional learning environment wasn’t suited to her. She chose homeschooling instead and continued reading Rowling’s books, even writing an essay on them.
“I think it’s how I got through everything,” she said. “It helped me leave the traditional academic system, people who weren’t my real friends, and let go of the negative aspects of my life.” She identifies most with Harry Potter’s house at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry — Gryffindor, known for bravery.
Abdul-Rauf’s room is a frenzy of Potterania, with posters on the walls and every surface decked out with more: a bag, a puzzle, a Gryffindor scarf, collectible cards, a coat, a hat, a bottle of pumpkin juice and lots of decorated journals. She even has a one-of-a-kind sock-monkey doll of Harry Potter, complete with broomstick and pet owl, Hedwig.
Other Potter-themed items are in storage, including her costumes. She has dressed up as Hermione Granger and as a member of the Weird Sisters (a brilliant band in the wizarding world). Her costumes come out for special occasions only, such as film and book releases and birthday parties. Well, not for her own birthday, just Harry Potter’s and J.K. Rowling’s, both July 31.
“I’ve had a Harry Potter party where we made a secret pact, and I thought it would be cool to burn it, but it burned a lot faster than I thought it would,” said Abdul-Rauf as she recalled nearly burning down her kitchen at age 13. This year’s festivities have not been solidified, but she does plan to bake a cake and avoid fire.
Abdul-Rauf’s commitment to everything Potter comes with one minor downside only a father could love.
“It repels boys,” she said. Even so, this devoted Muggle is hardly deterred. She just assumes boys are sweeter from afar. When the right wizard does come around, she plans to take their honeymoon in Potter territory, around London.
So how will this ultimate Potter fan be preparing for Friday’s opening of the final movie, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”?
Attending LeakyCon in Orlando, Fla., the world’s largest Harry Potter convention, which begins Wednesday. It’s sponsored by the Potter fan site www.the-leaky-cauldron.org, named for a wizard pub.
“Having grown up with Harry, it feels eerie,” she said of the final movie installment. “The Harry Potter generation is distinct from others because we’re the ones who experienced the books as children and adults.”
She’ll continue rereading the books and checking Rowling’s new site, www.pottermore.com, for updates.
This fall, she will attend Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., to study creative writing. The university does not have a formal Harry Potter club (students do play the wizard sport Quidditch, though).
Abdul-Rauf says she plans to “change a few things.”
To reach Jackie Hoermann, call 816-234-4767 or send email to email@example.com.