Every once in a while, a book that falls outside of my normal reading choices will catch my eye - something about the description or perhaps the cover. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks was one of those books.
Did you have an imaginary friend when you were younger? Perhaps you still do. Maybe your child does. Max Delaney is eight years old and he is 'different' than the other children in his class. Although his father denies it, his mother has accepted that Max has Asperger's - a form of autism. Max has an imaginary friend named Budo who has been around for quite a long time now - five years. That's a long time in the world of imaginary friends. But Budo is worried - if Max stops believing in Budo, then he will he disappear? But then the unthinkable happens - it is Max who disappears - taken by someone who wants Max as their own child. And the only person who knows where Max is? Budo. But what can he do? He's only a figment of Max's imagination. Or is he.....
What an utterly unique and captivating book this was! I chose to listen to Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. and was glad I did. Some books are just better in audio format. This was especially true for this book. The reader was Matthew Brown and his voice was perfect. Budo is the narrator of this story and Brown was able to portray the innocence of Budo in his diction and tone, infusing his voice with much emotion and wonder. Truly, Budo came alive in Brown's reading. He adapted different voices for each of the characters, providing me with a strong mental image of every player. I did find the first disc to be a bit slow, as Budo's narrative seemed repetitive and overly basic. But, then I thought about it and realized that Budo is a product of Max's mind. And Max "lives his life mostly inside himself." Upon reflection, the account seemed in keeping with the way Max thinks.
By the second disc, I was hooked. I wanted to know more about Budo, his world and the other friends he meets and knows. Max's story takes a bad turn and by then, there was no turning back. I was quite upset to have arrived at work already. (I listen to books on CD back and forth every day)
The whole imaginary friend idea really makes you stop and think. Children employ them for various reasons and I found the inclusion of an adult imaginary friend quite intriguing. Dicks has done a bang up job of creating wonderful characters, a heartbreaking and heartwarming tale and spinning it into one of the most unique tales I've experienced in a long time.
Listen to an excerpt of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend.
Read an excerpt of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend.
I think you're either going to love it or leave it. This reader loved it. It somewhat reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
In addition to being an author, Dicks is a parent and elementary teacher. The school is one of the main settings and Dicks has captured it and the character of beloved teacher Mrs. Gosk completely. (It turns out that Mrs. Gosk is a real teacher. You can listen to an interview with Dicks and Gosk here.)
You can find Matthew Dicks on Facebook and on Twitter.