Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend
By Matthew Dicks
Published on August 21, 2012
Published by St. Martin's Press
Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

Budo is Max's imaginary friend. But though only Max can see him, he is real. He and the other imaginary friends watch over their children until the day comes that the child stops imagining them. And then they're gone. Budo has lasted a lot longer than most imaginary friends - four years - because Max needs him more. His parents argue about sending him to a special school. But Max is perfectly happy if everything is just kept the way it is, and nothing out of the ordinary happens. Unfortunately, something out of the ordinary is going to happen - and then he'll need Budo more than ever... 

My thoughts...

Max is a young boy who is probably somewhere on the autism spectrum.  His parents don't quite know what to do with him, and neither do other kids at school.  Max doesn't like change, or strangers, or breaking rules.  Budo is there for him, though, because Max still needs his imaginary friend to navigate the very complicated world around him.  Things get even more serious when something unexpected happens to Max, and it falls to Budo to save him.  Racing against the clock, Budo struggles to find a way to interact with a world that doesn't believe he exists, so he can save his human and best friend.

I didn't know what to expect from this book, but I fell in love with it within the first few pages.  It's very different from anything else I've ever read by sheer virtue of the uniqueness of the narrator.  Budo has a very original voice -- it's somewhat childlike, but Budo is also wise beyond his imaginary-years, as he understands subtleties and nuances that his human friend Max doesn't.   There are many poignant passages in the book as Budo observes the world around him, interacts with other invisible friends, and strives to do the best he can for Max, who he loves more than anyone else.

The author writes for Max with a great deal of sensitivity, never making it seem like there is anything "wrong" with him, instead emphasizing that he just sees and interacts with the world in a way that many other neurotypical people do not.  I really recommend taking a chance on this book, even if it may not sound like it's your cup of tea.  I don't want to talk too much about the plot for fear of spoiling some of the bigger plot points, but I will say that this was a very engrossing book.  It was a quick read and there were many parts where I couldn't put the book down as I waited to see what would happen next.  

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