My daughter is on the last one hundred pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this week. It has been rough. She was able to handle those deaths from the previous installments. She was outraged when she started Deathly Hallows and a beloved pet and teacher were killed. By the next day she was okay. But ever since Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, my girl has become obsessed with the Weasley family (who can blame her?). Ginny is Scarlet’s favorite. Ron is the brother she wishes she had (she does she just hasn’t given him a chance yet). But the girl has turned her adoration to twins Fred and George in the past month. And with that I knew the death that would devastate her.
Even though I have read many books since I was a kid, I don’t remember many character deaths that had an impact on me. Maybe there weren’t a lot. Between the Ramona books, Judy Blume, and V.C. Andrews, there were little to no deaths (yes, people died in Flowers in the Attic but that book had so many wrong things going on it was hard to focus on just the deaths). Then I started reading the Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal. Character Regina Morrow was the first book character death that hit hard and has stayed with me 25 years later.
The Sweet Valley High series is the story of twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield who are high schoolers that live in a sunny California town. Elizabeth is the conscientious and sweet girl while Jessica is the fun and gossipy one. They have a large group of friends. In the story On the Edge, one of them is Regina Morrow, a beautiful, wealthy girl. She is kind and close to Elizabeth. She dates Bruce Patman, who is known for being a douche. When Bruce decides to dump Regina to go out with someone else, she takes it hard. She goes to a party where she does cocaine and it leads to her death. Her dying left me numb I was so shocked. I read these books to escape and for enjoyment. I didn’t expect the darkness that came in just a moment. All this time has passed and I still remember that feeling.
When Scarlet read that Harry Potter death, she came to me the next day with tears in her eyes and told me he had died. I told her how sorry I was and cried with her. After a few minutes I was able to tell her that out of all the deaths in the Harry Potter world, his death was the one J.K. Rowling regrets the most. This made her feel a little better. But I also know his death will stay with her and remind her how much she cared about him and this fictional world.