Friday, November 30, 2012
Book Review: "Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend" by Matthew Dicks
"I live in a strange place in the world," Budo says. "I live in the space in between people. I spend most of my time in the kid world with Max, but I also spend a lot of time with adults like Max's parents and teachers...except they can't see me."
Max has Asperger's Syndrome, and while his mother wants to send him to therapists and doctors to help him get better, his father believes Max is just a late bloomer who will change when he's ready, as long as he's treated like every other child. Max likes his routine, he likes his toys, he loves his teacher, Mrs. Gosk, and storytime, and he hates change. Change makes him "stuck."
Budo wants to protect Max as best as any imaginary friend can; he helps Max with his schoolwork and tries to help him navigate the bullies at school who want to hurt Max, like fifth-grader Tommy Swinden. More than anything, Budo wants Max to always need and believe in him, because Budo has seen what happens to other imaginary friends when their real friends stop believing in themthey stop existing.
When Mrs. Patterson, the woman (not a teacher) who sometimes helps Max at the Learning Center at school, kidnaps Max because she believes she could do a better job raising him, Budo doesn't know how to help. How can he save Max when he can't be heard by humans, or move things? He enlists the help of other imaginary friends to try and save Max, but he realizes that in order to save Max he might have to risk his own existence.
So many times reading this book, I couldn't believe Matthew Dicks' creativity. This is a book narrated entirely by a child's imaginary friend. The world that Dicks has created is so unique and well-developed, and while I didn't have an imaginary friend growing up, I almost would like one know if he could be like Budo. While he understands the world around him a little better than Max does, he still has a somewhat limited base of knowledge. His narrative voice is both wise and child-like, and it made the book so tremendously enjoyable and poignant.
I was a little skeptical when I heard about the concept of this book, but I was hooked from the very first page. These characters are wonderful ones you'll want to take into your heart, and although you probably will have an idea of how the story will resolve, the way it unfolds is just wonderful. This is a great book even if you're not a kid at heart, but if you are, I hope you love it as much as I did.