Anti-Complexity

At a book discussion for Banned Books Week, a woman mentions Harry Potter was censored as “anti-family.” What does that mean? MacBeth offers no honeyed view of family. Should we not read Shakespeare? I walk home in the dark, the air balmy and the crickets singing, a crescent moon shining like yellow gold over our house’s metal roof, then listen to my daughters’ laughter floating on that oddly warm September air through the open screens in the living room.

I slip off my sandals and stand on grass, still wet from where I watered the cotoneaster bush I planted a few weeks ago. Every evening in this dry weather, I water this bush. I planted it because the house I grew up in had a cotoneaster outside my father’s study window. My brother, when he learned to ride a bike, plowed through that bush, numerous times. I picked the berries and strung them on thread for necklaces. My sister and I fed them to our dolls. My mother admired the sprawling bush’s resilience.

I think of Harry Potter, the boy who longed for his dead parents. Anti-family? As if family has ever been simple.

We raise children and tell them other things about who they can be and what they are worth: to us, everything. We love each other fiercely, while we live and after we die. We survive; we are savages.

– Jessmyn Ward, Men We Reaped

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