Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks
Published: 2012 by St. Martin’s Press
What did I do on Saturday night? I read Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. Now it’s not unusual for me to spend an evening reading, but it is unusual to complete a book almost entirely in one sitting (I had read maybe 50 pages the day before). The only time I got up while I was reading was to get some tissues.
Memoirs is the story of Budo, the imaginary friend of Max, a young boy who likely suffers from some form of autism. Budo accompanies Max to school and acts as his protector, even though Budo cannot physically come to Max’s aid. Though Budo cannot exist without Max, he is still able to visit other places while Max is asleep — the local gas station, for example — and he also makes friends with other “imaginaries”.
Something terrible happens to Max, and Budo is the only one who knows what it is. Even though he is not in close proximity to Max, because Max still believes in him Budo is able to exist and make a concerted effort to help his friend, using any means possible.
It is not the same story, but in some ways I was reminded of the novel Room as I was reading this. Budo is the narrator, and though he does seem wise beyond his years, as the imaginary friend of a nine year-old boy I would guess he was imagined to be not much older than that. The dialog is not childish at all, but there are some passages that definitely read like something a child would think or say. As well, the suspense created as Budo is helping Max out is incredibly done; that was one of the reasons I couldn’t stop reading because I couldn’t stand to wait to find out what happened.
Above all, the character of Budo is just amazingly written. Though a figment of young Max’s imagination, he displays real emotions not just for Max, but also for others he encounters (real and imaginary).
This is a wonderfully original story that was a pleasure to read, despite my periodic bouts of crying (my husband just couldn’t understand why I was crying over a book).
Highly highly recommended.