Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

In the human world, Budo exists only for Max, an eight year old withdrawn boy.  But Budo can interact with other kids’ imaginary friends.  Being imagined himself, he understands the precariousness of his existence and the other imaginary friends he knows.  When a child stops believing in their friend, the friend ceases to exist.  This is Budo’s most vivid fear – that one day, Max will no longer need his companionship, and therefore Budo will no longer be.

Budo and Max are almost never separated, unless Max is asleep, and then Budo roams – to other rooms of the house, and to other places in the neighborhood.  His ability to wander separately from Max proves beneficial when Max is abducted, and it is up to Budo to save him.  Budo can’t interact with the “real” world, but it turns out that other imaginary friends are helpful allies, and one in particular has abilities that surpass his own.  Now, if Budo can just get this other imaginary friend to like him…

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is told from Budo’s point of view.  At first, the book starts out slowly, as the reader grasps Max’s limited interactions with his parents, teachers, and fellow students (Max has Asperger’s Syndrome, or is “on the spectrum”, according to the liner notes).  The story gradually gets scarier, and a certain person considered trustworthy becomes, in a very creepy way, not so.  And Max, with the help of Budo, discovers latent skills that he never thought of previously, and learns to help himself.

I first got a little bogged down early on, but Budo is an engaging character.  I really felt the sadness underlying his fragile sense of being, and why it was a dilemma for him to continue existing, or to save Max and let him grow up and let go.  The book addresses several issues – the nature of existence, loyalty, family cohesiveness, good vs. evil, etc.  

Lastly, the character of Mrs. Gosk is the kind of teacher most of us wished we had, back in the day. 

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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