Alysha’s Life Story

My life has never been easy. In fact, the very thought of easiness is still a mystery to me. I’m an orphan. I don’t know my parents, where they are, what they look like, or if they are even alive. I have no close or distant relatives that I know about either. According to the hospital I was found in, all I had on me was a tag with my first and last name on it and my birthday. All I know about my past is that I’m from New Zealand.

When I was five I got shipped off to England where I would spend the next 13 years of my life. I was in and out of foster care and orphanages.  It was hard. I was lonely. I didn’t have friends or anyone to talk to. I tried to cope with keeping quiet and keeping my head down. However, with nothing really to do or anyone to talk to I mostly stayed in my bed and thought about random things.

It was 1997. I was eleven and at a home when my entire life changed. One day a delivery van came with a large order of books. All the kids got to pick out one book out of this huge box. There were loads of different types like puzzle books, art, coloring, animals, everything. Well, this one caught my eye:

pottercvrFor some reason the image just struck me. I went to my bed and started reading. And I fell in love immediately. I was eleven. I was all by myself trying to survive. The teachers and staff always wanted to gloss over our situation and stayed optimistic. But in Harry Potter J.K. Rowling told it like it was.

I was engrossed in the book. I didn’t bother to go outside anymore. At night I’d stay up in the bathroom and read. It was amazing.

I instantly bonded with Harry Potter. His parents were killed when he just a baby. He had to stay with his terrible relatives. He was treated like dirt. No one had any stories to tell him about his parents or other family members. All he knew was that he had a scar on his forehead due to the car crash which had destroyed his family. He stayed in a cupboard under the stairs and spent most of his time lying there thinking about nothing and everything.

I understood perfectly. I knew exactly what Harry was going through and for the first time in all my life I felt connected to someone else. It helped that he was described as having dark hair, being small and scrawny and underfeed. That basically fit me as well, lol.

I related to him so deeply and as I read I could easily put myself in his place. What Harry saw I could see so clearly and what he felt burned in my heart.

Ron Weasley easily became my sunshine. He had me laughing from the very beginning. I loved how brave and honest and kind he was. I never had a friend like that. As I would read I pictured his freckly face smiling at me and reassuring that things would be okay. It helped me a lot. I also loved how he was from such a big, vibrant, and loving family. Family is something I never knew and still don’t fully understand. I don’t know if I have any brothers or sisters and he was with six. It was gnarly. I fantasized about my parents being like Molly and Arthur. I couldn’t imagine how lucky all the Weasley kids must have felt.

Hermione Granger was the girl I inspired to be like. I never considered myself very smart or bold like her, but she made me want to be a stronger and more determined girl. I considered myself tough but not strong. I loved the girl power and how she kept up and surpassed the boys without a hint of superiority.

The Trio became my family. They were fierce friends and loved each other. Ron and Harry’s friendship moved me from the day one. They instantly connected like they were just meant to be friends. It made me think that everything happened for a reason and maybe my situation would better me somehow.

I thought about this as related to Harry: if Harry’s parents didn’t die, they would have seen him off at the train station and probably would have gotten him there early. They would have found him a comfortable seat with other kids possibly.

If this would have happened, he probably never would have run into Ron. Harry wouldn’t have been famous so there would have been no reason for anyone to point him out. This made me feel better for Harry. All these terrible things happened to him so he could find his friends and moreover, Ronald Bilius Weasley, a person who would quickly become Harry’s light source and soul mate.

So, I read it in a few days. Then I read it again and again and again. When I was taken into foster care awhile later, I took the book with me. It was the only possession I had. I wasn’t supposed to take the book, but I didn’t care. I was twelve at the time. The family I was staying with had children and they actually had books one and two. I was in heaven. I snuck into the boy’s room and read Chamber of Secrets. It was incredible. I loved how the story developed and how The Trio was a unit and even more how Ron and Harry were so funny and close in it.

I didn’t stay at the foster home long. I got shipped back to the home. I cried. I wanted the book. One of the heads at the home noticed how much I loved HP. She promised to get me the books and no matter where I was shipped off to, she’d send me the next one. I had to work for them though. I had to clean, cook, cut grass, and all the things Harry had to do at home.

So, by the time the first movie was in production you could say I was the hardest of hardcore fan. I’m not kidding when I say Harry Potter saved my life. Some people have family, music, friends, art; anything that keeps them grounded and keeps them hanging on even in the darkest of moments. I had Harry Potter. Reading about his adventures and his friendship with Ron turned even my strongest frown into a smile. Harry Potter was my entire existence. I could simply escape all the horrors and pain of the life around me and follow him and his friends into Hogwarts.

alysha2Anyway, I was not excited for the movie. I know how Hollywood just LOVES to glam up books. They love to cut dialog, add things for shock value, dumb down characters so they’re relatable and my favorite, sex up things.

People all around me talked about the movie and how they wanted to see it. I didn’t. I stayed away from it. I was 15 when it premiered. I saw the trailer on TV. I was staying at a foster home at the time. While it looked appealing I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. By the time the first movie came out books 1-4 were out, and I was engrossed by Goblet of Fire. It’s my favorite book. I loved how Harry and Ron’s friendship was tested and how Harry finally had his encounter with Voldemort and his parents. I also loved how there was character death. It made it more real for me.

So, over the years, I kept seeing trailers for the movies. I saw Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson grow up. I thought Rupert just got hotter and hotter but still, I couldn’t watch the movies. Harry Potter meant the world to me and I couldn’t risk watching the movies demolish the story. It would have broken my heart.

So, by 2004 I was 18 and I had books 1-5. I was finally out of the care system and I moved back to New Zealand. I kept the old books that I earned through the years but I bought fresh ones to keep in storage. I was madly in love with the books but I still never went to see the movies, although they were everywhere! The toys, games, websites, clothes, and posters… but none of this captured me. People talked about the movies: some said how they loved them and others how highly disappointing the movies had been. I was happy that I didn’t watch them. I didn’t want any of the HP magic that I saw in my head be ruined by the images of the movies.

So, it wasn’t until 2007 and I was 21 that I saw the movies. By that time movies 1-5 were out. I was in Hertfordshire with friends and, by chance, I met Rupert and his father at a restaurant. Rupert was very lovely and kind to me. Though I hadn’t seen him act in the HP series, I had seen him in Driving Lessons and Thunderpants. I was a fan of his and had seen interviews and everything else of him. I always read good reviews of him playing Ron Weasley so that was a huge plus, and his charm, kindness, sexiness, and just overall personality drew me in. I figured if he was that incredible in person, then his portrayal of Ron had to be major.

When I got back home to New Zealand I bought all the DVDs and watched the movies in one day.

Okay, first, I’m so happy I didn’t watch as they came out. I was right. In my opinion the movies are watered down. So many lines have been moved and changed, the physical appearances of some of the characters are way off, but what gets me is that the “Magic” isn’t really there. Yes, there is actual magic but for me the big CG images and the green screen and all the animation overshadow the actual story.

Harry Potter is about a young wizard, trying to figure out who he is, where his destiny lies and how he’s supposed to be the savior of the wizarding world when he doesn’t fully understand the task. That kind of magic is lost. The spectacular has overthrown the meaning. The actual story and the raw emotions of the characters aren’t as highlighted and important as they should be. If a person who has never read the books watches the movies, I doubt he or she would have any real idea what is going on besides the obvious. So many things have been skipped around and completed taken away or added.

alysha1However, from an entertainment point of view, they movies are good. They’re funny, there are great visual effects, and the chemistry of Rupert, Dan, and Emma is marvelous.

Rupert is amazing as Ron. It doesn’t matter that he’s not as tall or skinny or freckly. He has Ron’s charm and humor and blind impulsiveness down packed. Rupert is the reason I have given the movies the time of day and he’s one of the main reasons I’ve stuck with it. Book!Ron and Movie!Ron are pretty much the same when it comes to humor and impulsiveness, but Movie!Ron doesn’t have the passionate determination and loyalty that Book!Ron has. In books, he’s more than just the bloke who has the one liners — but sometimes on screen that has been his only role. However, Movie!Ron is so much sexier than my Book!Ron is, lol.

I like Dan Radcliffe as Harry. Harry has a dry kind of emo-ness to him that I believe Dan pulls off well. Sometimes he has this look on his face that is so Book!Harry. It’s almost as if he’s under the stairs again, thinking about nothing and everything at the same time. I look like that sometimes too. However, Book!Harry has so much more humor and attitude that they don’t let Movie!Harry have. It’s sad. Harry Potter is so witty, and I wish they’d let Dan work with it more.

I don’t like Movie!Hermione that much. She’s too Hollywood. I’m sure Emma Watson does her best, but still. As a movie character Hermione is great but, in my opinion, she does not reflect Book!Hermione.

So, what did I think of the movies?

Philosopher’s Stone: It was better than I thought it would be. I loved the look of Harry. He was just how I saw him in my head. I loved how they tried to keep the movie canon. Obviously a lot of things were changed, but it wasn’t anything major. I loved the relationship between Harry and Hagrid. It was very much as it was in the book and the animosity between Ron and Hermione was great too. The scene at the end with Quirrell and Voldemort was well done: I loved how it looked and how it was filmed. Rupert lived up to his good reviews. I knew already that he was a great actor but seeing him portray Ron was a breath of fresh air. The book was magical and the movie reflected that magic. Thumbs up!

alysha5Chamber of Secrets: it was another good one. It was very true to the book and Rupert and Dan were flawless together. The animation like the Mandrakes and spiders, and all the flying car scenes were even better than how I imagined. Rupert really became Ron in this one. He was Best Mate and Big Brother and he belching slugs was superb! Five stars for this movie.

alysha4Prisoner of Azkaban: I was very disappointed. Hermione was no longer Hermione. While the look of the film was how I imagined, very dark and sort of mysterious, the storyline was butchered. There were so many things changed. Everything from the Firebolt to the quidditch matches and all the hilarious fighting over the Cat and Rat were gone. Even the big scene with Sirius and Lupin was not as emotional as it was in the book. The only thing that stood out and that I liked was when Ron was being taken by The Grim. How Rupert played that gave me chills. I also really loved Harry and his Patronus and the time turner scene was really funny. So, besides those saving graces, the movie was a huge let down.

alysha3Goblet of Fire: This is my favorite book so I was extremely nervous watching it. I loved the maze sequence and the black lake. The final battle with Harry and Voldemort was breathtaking. Dan did a great job bringing out Harry in these scenes. The Yule Ball scene was very funny and Rupert and Emma did that very well, and it helps that Rupert was extremely buff in this movie, lol. However, generally it was another let down. What I loved about the book so much was that Harry finally realized what Ron and Hermione meant to him. Harry not speaking to Ron killed him. I loved how empty he was without him. It also showed how much he relied on Hermione and how determined she was. She helped him with the summoning spells and stuck by him. None of this was seen the movie. So much friendship was cut and replaced with cheesy comedy. So, it didn’t live up the book as I hoped it would.

Order of the Phoenix: loved it!! We saw a bit of actual friendship and Trio love and the characters just seemed to grow and click. Now, there are some things I didn’t like. Harry going back in time and seeing his father was a huge let down. It was several pages long in the book and was so amazing and detailed, but in the movie reduced to 15 seconds. I didn’t like how there was no quidditch and how characters like Angelina, the twins, Ginny, Dean, and Cho were lost completely. I also didn’t like how Prefects were never talked about. I was excited to see the friction between Ron and Harry. That aside, the movie was great. Luna was perfect. The DA scenes were really neat and I loved Voldemort possessing Harry and him using Ron and Hermione to get through it with the flashback moment. I loved Harry talking to Ron and Hermione about the kiss. Rupert, Dan, and Emma never had more chemistry. I loved how for the first time I believed they were all friends. In the movies it’s so easy to get caught up in the glamour. People forget that these three teens are best friends and need each other. For the first time I saw Harry, Ron, and Hermione as friends and as somewhat regular kids. The special effects were spot on: I loved how the dementors looked and the big battle at the end with Dumbledore and Voldemort was spectacular and epic. Of course my favorite scene was when Harry had a nightmare and he shot out of bed and Ron was there watching him with this look of deep concern on his face. The Best Mates friendship was alive and well in this movie.

So overall, comparing book and movie, books win hands down. There’s the magic and story there. The movies are okay. They are not as terrible I thought, but they aren’t as great as they could be. They’re good entertainment and I really enjoy watching Rupert and Dan act together.

For someone like me who is diehard Harry Potter and has been from the beginning, the movies disappoint me when it comes to keeping canon. However they fulfilled my expectations in the sense that they were a lot better that I originally anticipated. With all the magic it’s easy to get a bit cheesy and over the top; but I think the style is very realistic, and yet enough to make you believe it’s another world. However, they let me down in the sense of the characters just being how they are on the surface. We lose the idea of the Trio being teens trying to survive and how much they all need each other. Not all the acting is spectacular but some of the younger cast members like Rupert Grint and Evanna Lynch give the movie light.

I can’t emphasise enough how happy I am that I waited and how much Rupert has impressed me. He is a main component to the movie franchise’s success, and I can’t wait to see more of him in the future.

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7 Comments

  1. FugitiveStar says:

    Wow, Alysha. What an incredible story. I was so touched reading about how important the HP books became to you, and how they were your refuge in tough times. I feel the same as you do about the Trio. They’re more than just characters in a book or in a movie. Sometimes they feel like flesh-and-blood friends that we can turn to when we need a smile or a laugh, or even when we need their troubles to take our minds off ours. I’m so glad you found the books and found something that spoke to you and that you could relate to, and thanks for sharing your story with us.

  2. WJo says:

    This is such an interesting article, reading your own story and how you felt connected to Harry and how HP and the characters helped you get through though times was so touching for me. Really beautiful story, thank you for sharing.

  3. Carolyn says:

    Very inspiring story.

  4. Cookimonstress says:

    That was amazing, Alysha! That’s awesome how you felt so connected to Harry. And how he helped you get through such difficult times in your life is very inspiring. Your article is very touching. Great job!

  5. Sabine aka galadriel12 says:

    Oh, Alysha. This was really a touching story. And very, very well written. Of course I didn’t know how hard life has been for you, but it’s so touching and inspriring to read how Harry Potter has saved your life and how much Harry, Ron and Hermione mean to you. *hugs Alysha*

  6. brittany says:

    that was great alysha. i got teary eyed seeing how much the book means to you. luv ya chicka.

  7. francaise3 says:

    I know I’m utterly late to this,, but damn what a story Alysha! Talk about inspiration! :) Thanks for sharing your thoughs and expereinces! Hugs!

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