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Book Review: Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

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Budo is the imaginary friend of Max Delaney, an eight-year-old boy with autism. Imaginary friends look and function as their humans create them. Since little kids are the ones thinking them up, they often are missing ears or eyebrows, for instance, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Budo is very human in appearance and is especially smart and able, because Max has such a vivid imagination.

Aside from other imaginary friends, only Max can see and hear Budo, and Budo watches out for Max, within the limits of being invisible and unable to interact with the physical world. He can’t really help much when Tommy Swindon, a fifth-grade bully, comes after Max. And Budo can’t help Max’s parents, who disagree on how much help Max needs.

Budo is tested when Max disappears from school one day. Budo knows what has happened to his friend, but he can’t communicate with Max’s teachers or parents. Budo must muster all his courage and get more help from other imaginary friends than he has ever dreamed possible in order to do what he must: be there for his creator, his best friend, Max.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is a sweet, poignant, and satisfying meditation on friendship and facing fears, with healthy doses of ideas on parenting on teaching along the way. It is also one of the most original novels I have ever read. I was drawn in immediately and loved hearing about how the world of imaginary friends works. The language is childlike, but this aspect lends the book charm and warmth. Because of the uniqueness of this world, I found it hard to guess what was going to happen.

Author Matthew Dicks is an award-winning third-grade teacher with a gift for storytelling. Memoirs is his third novel. His first, Something Missing, focussed on a thief who only took items that would not be missed; his second, Unexpectedly, Milo, featured a home-health aid with multiple obsessions and a crumbling marriage. I look forward to seeing what springs from his fertile imagination next.

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About Nancy Fontaine

Nancy Fontaine is a librarian and freelance writer living in New Hampshire with her husband, two cats, and every four years during presidential primary season, the national press.