I used to have an imaginary friend. His name was Duckie. He was a tiny yellow duckling that lived in my bathroom. Having read Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks, I’m sad that he’s gone.
Brief Synopsis: Budo is very lucky. He’s been alive for five years, which is ancient for an imaginary friend. Max is Budo’s “imaginer.” Having Asperger’s, Max has kept Budo longer than most children keep their imaginary friends. Budo is Max’s best friend and confidant. When something unthinkable happens, it is up to Budo and a team of imaginary friends to save Max or help him save himself, even if doing so threatens Budo’s own existence.
Rating : 5/5 Stars
Overall impression: This book took me completely by surprise. It wasn’t on my list, but thanks to Google magic, an ad for it started following me around the internet. I caved and I am so glad I did. I absolutely loved this book.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. A story told from the perspective of an imaginary friend? It sounds like something that could very easily veer into the realm of cheese, but it doesn’t. It’s uplifting, funny and at times heartbreaking. There were times I laughed out loud and—I’m not going to lie—it made me ugly cry. I cried so hard my right nostril was stuffed for hours after finishing.
Does it have flaws? Of course it does, but I can forgive any number of flaws when a book can make me feel as strongly as this one did. Add it to your list. It’s a quick and easy read that I doubt you’ll regret.
What I liked (no spoilers): The details in this story are so creative and convincing. The cast of imaginary friends in this book are the creations of children and they exist EXACTLY as they are imagined. Children aren’t the most detail oriented of creatures, so if they forget to imagine that their friend has ears, then that friend doesn’t have ears. It is through this element that Dicks sets the rules for the fantastical portion of the story. For instance, Max imagines that Budo can pass through doors even when they are closed. Some children don’t consider this skill when imagining their friends, which means many get locked inside closets or rooms for days. No two friends are alike, making the possibilities endless and meeting new friends so much fun. Some have wings and can fly. Some are puppies. Some look almost human… one is even a spoon.
I also loved Max. It’s really hard not to. I don’t have any experience with Asperger’s in my life (though I watch Parenthood so I’m somewhat familiar with the symptoms), so to get a glimpse inside Max’s head is eye opening. He lives his life on the inside while everyone else lives their lives on the outside. So simple, yet profound, in a way that only children (or their imaginary friends) can be.
Also, I won’t spoil the main plot, but a quick glimpse at what people didn’t like about this book revealed that they thought the “unthinkable” thing that happens to Max is far fetched. I watch A LOT of Law and Order and I say it’s not far fetched at all. I’d say it’s pretty spot on as far as unthinkable acts go.
What I didn’t like (no spoilers): Honestly, not much. If I had one complaint it would be that some chapters felt like pure filler. We are at point A and need to get to point B, but before we do that, let’s check out this thing over here. I was so invested in Max’s situation, I just wanted to unravel it as quickly as possible! Then again, maybe Dicks just wants to force his readers to savor the ride… it’s definitely a good one.