Thanks, Hermione This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 14, 2013
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I remember her hair – big, bushy and brown, framing her face, highlighting her eyes. It was everywhere. I gazed at her, brow furrowed as I struggled to understand why my dad was lying to me.
He said it again – that the girl on the screen, Hermione, reminded him of me. But with my black hair, black eyes, and brown skin, how could I look like that girl on the screen?
“She's just like you, Maya!” Does he never tire of the deception?
I was about to call him a liar when I heard her speak. It was as though someone had plopped Santa Claus right in front of me. Her words were as miraculously large as the books she dragged through the hallways, and she seemed to be so much wiser than the two boys she befriended. After all, she was the one who could make the feather float and the fire burn; she was the one who found out about the Sorcerer's Stone.
No, Hermione Granger wasn't me at all; she was everything I wanted to be as a four-year-old watching “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.”
“I love her,” I whispered, my full attention on the girl on the screen.
Hermione Granger gave me inspiration. At age six, I was more forceful, more headstrong – more like my forgotten hero Hermione. Two years was one-third of my life span, and the girl with the bushy brown hair who could do anything had become a wisp of a memory, inconsequential in a world of schoolyard bullies and my inability to make friends. Summer had arrived, and I found myself in a house I hated on principle; no house could replace our home of the last
five years. I had no friends after a year at my new elementary school, and I was lonely.
We were at Target, and I can remember stacks of green books, half missing, though it had been just hours since they were placed on the shelves. My grandfather bought the sixth book for my father and then the first five in the series for me, saying, “I know how much you like to read.”
I pursed my lips. Reading was what got me into this mess. Maybe if I read less I would actually be hanging out with friends instead of shopping at Target. But I decided to try the series anyway.
As I read, I found myself again. Here was a girl who, despite being bookish, made friends, a girl who knew so much, who read as much as I did, a girl who spoke her mind and could do anything! As I devoured the series that would become my life, I felt the burning of something that I hadn't felt in a while, not since I had left my old life and my friends a year ago.
Hermione Granger gave me hope.
I have friends now, people I would die for, people who are the reason I get out of bed when it's still dark outside. I go to school and try to learn everything. I want to be able to do anything, and it is my firm belief that a working knowledge of all subjects is an essential part of life. My heroes aren't actors, veterans, or politicians. My hero is a girl whom I modeled my life after. A girl who tried to learn everything but never had many friends. A girl who would do anything – suffer torture, kill, or be killed – for the few friends she had. A girl who became a hero without wanting to, without trying to.
Hermione Granger was my hero.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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