By Melissa Haderlie
Librarian, Star Valley Branch
Harry Potter’s birthday is just around the corner (July 31, 1980 for those not in the know). I have been a fan of the Harry Potter body of work for many years now. Not only do I enjoy the books and movies, but also the fan fiction plays, the HP merchandise, and I even took a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida. My geek fandom also branches out to the actors who play in the movies and I have watched their works before and after the movies. While I draw the line at dressing up like the characters, I am a huge Potterhead.
So you can guess I was pretty excited when Tom Felton, who portrayed Draco Malfoy, wrote his autobiography. I anticipated reading how being Draco impacted Tom’s childhood. In his work, Felton does a great job at sharing amusing anecdotes and antics on set and his meaningful interactions with British acting royalty.
The standard the world held for Tom and his fellow actors/actresses was unrealistic and led to many mental health issues which Tom candidly writes about. Deep down he knew he was struggling with just wanting to be regular old Tom and leave his day job of acting at home just like us normal folk. Yet as an actor, he also felt pressure to play a part both on and off screen. The struggle to define his real self versus his actor persona is the theme for Felton’s body of work. This led to a loss of self and the readily available cure of alcoholism for self-medication. Tom is very open about this experience and his road to recovery.
I was surprised that my favorite parts of the book were not concerning Harry Potter. I enjoyed Tom’s family stories about fishing with his brother. I loved meeting the three strangers who assisted Tom during his recovery. If I had any criticism of the book it would be hearing Tom laugh at his own jokes in the audio format…it sounded too rehearsed or maybe too British for these American ears.
I highly recommend Tom Felton’s Beyond the Wand as a great way to celebrate Harry Potter’s 43rd birthday and for anyone who experiences or knows someone experiencing mental health issues or imposter syndrome (statistically, that should be about everyone). It is available throughout the Lincoln County Library System as a book, e-book (both in Libby and Kindle formats), and e-audiobook.