I hope you’re all well. I’m back from an incredible few days in London with my family. We have had an action packed time with adventures I’m sure I’ll share with you as time goes by. Just know I carried you all with me with the power of phones and internet! Big statement alert: this is my favourite book of 2022 so far. There, I said it. And that’s coming from a Gryffindor girl! As soon as it was announced that Tom Felton had written a book, I desperately wanted to get my hands on a copy. This book is everything and more and I am proud to say that I read this in just a few hours. I had to share my review with you all. For those of you who are not into Harry Potter, don’t worry. This book is an exemplary example of non-fiction. Let’s do this!
What’s it all about?
The novel starts with a foreword by Emma Watson. What we learn from foreword is the beauty of their friendship and how they are soulmates and will be in each other’s lives forever. It made me reflect upon my own friendships and having that specific connection with someone is truly remarkable. From here, Felton takes us through his childhood in chronological order, with each chapter being linked to the magical world of Harry Potter. It starts off quite humbly, with Felton showing us just how difficult it is to juggle a normal life with being a huge film star on one of the biggest franchises the world has ever seen. In his ever reflective narrative, Felton explains about an incident at HMV and an adult DVD. The incident itself isn’t that dramatic but it’s the fear that comes with it; the disappointment from his Mum and the fear of Warner Bros finding out and taking away his acting career. There’s a fine line between having a laugh with friends and being reckless.
“While the young Tom Felton was no Draco Malfoy, he was no saint either. Maybe that’s what got me the part in the first place.”
We learn about his family, the influence of his brothers and how his early auditions and acting experiences weren’t amazing. However, none of this stopped him and he got a part in The Borrowers. This led to his first film premier where it was all unknown really. His family went with him in another example of lovely family unity. Little Tom Felton had no idea what his future held and if it wasn’t for his mother, he wouldn’t have attended some of the auditions that he did. The next film was Anna and the King and this took Felton to the lights of Los Angeles for an audition, where he was successful, which led to filming in Malaysia. More new experiences for a young Felton who appreciated all the lessons that these experiences provided. From here, the calling of Harry Potter wasn’t far away. Yet, it wasn’t to be as expected. Felton made a bit of a fool of himself quite early on. But, this led him to a different part; one that he could never have imagined.
“Would Draco have gone home to mug up, Hermoine-like, on Harry Potter books? I think not. Would he have blagged his way through a question about which character he was most excited to see on screen? Possibly.”
We are taken through the filming and what life was like for a young Felton and his appreciation of his fellow actors. There’s anecdotes about working with Daniel Radcliffe, Alan Rickman, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Maggie Smith and Zoe Wanamaker, just to name a few. Likewise with Emma Watson, Felton shares his views with the world about her. Their relationship is pure, innocent and utterly compelling. The support they share for each other and the unquestionable loyalty they have for each other means that the two will be connected for life. I also think his appreciation of Daniel Radcliffe is also reflective and kind. It’s always lovely as a reader to see that the friendships on screen are mirrored in real life. We are also aware that some of the cast have since passed away. I too appreciated the acknowledgement of these and of Felton who, now as an adult, appreciates those interactions even more.
“We grew closer and the more I saw and understood what he life was like, the more empathy I had for her. I became very defensive of her, whenever she needed defending. I began to see her not as a little girl, nor as a public-property celebrity, but as a young woman who was doing her very best to negotiate a life where ordinary social situations and interactions were practically impossible.”
For me personally, the part of the novel that made me feel a whole range of emotions was when we saw an older Felton struggling with the reality of life post Harry Potter. Say goodbye to being anonymous and having a sense of real life outside of the public eye. This in itself sounds easier said than done and I found the honesty of Felton humbling. I am not afraid to say that I shed a tear or two! His family felt the need to stage an intervention based on Felton’s alcohol consumption. The end of the book is all about Felton’s struggles with his mental health and his addictive behaviours. He found himself in rehab – something that has a stigma and a label attached to. Like the rest of the novel, it’s unapologetically honest. I was relieved to see by the end of the novel that whilst mental health can still be an issue, Felton is now in a better place, cementing himself as a hero for his generation for being so open and honest.
“I realised that before I had been existing a state of absolute numbness. It wasn’t that I was ready to jump off a bridge; it was that jumping off a bridge and winning the lottery seemed like equivalent outcomes. I had no interest in anything, good or bad.”
I cannot deny how much I love this book. I didn’t want to put it down, I’ve recommended it to my friends and also some of my students at school. I think that Felton is a role model for young people and his honesty and reflection throughout this is commendable. As a massive Potterhead, I know I was always going to read this book but I didn’t appreciate how much I come to value this book. The issues around mental health are so key and prominent – I could relate to many things – and that is absolutely acceptable because life happens and things impact our state of wellbeing and equilibrium. People, young and old, Harry Potter fan or not, read this book. It might just change your life. It has mine.
Big Love xxxx