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#454 ~ Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend


Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

Published by: St. Martin’s Press

Published on: August 21, 2012

Page Count: 320

Genre: Fiction

My Reading Format: Audiobook ARC picked up at BEA

Audiobook Published by: MacMillan Audio

Narrator: Matthew Brown

Audiobook Length: 9 hours

Audio Sample: Thank you to MacMillan Audio for providing this audio sample of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend.

Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook


My Review

Budo is special. Not only is he Max’s imaginary friend, he has been for more than five years. This is an uncommon feat for any imaginary friend. You see, the lifespan of an imaginary friend is the total of the time in which their friends believe in them. Max has some emotional and social issues and it is because of this, it seems, that Budo has survived for such a long period of time. As a result, he’s come to know a great deal about the lives and role of imaginary friends, his friend Max, and the world around him. While this information helps him to navigate Max through and around difficult situations, it has its disadvantages. His knows enough dread his own demise more than anything else and, although he can communicate with other imaginary friends, there are few who can relate to him at all. It his job to help Max, but when doing so means he might die, Budo has several difficult decisions to make.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend may have been written from the perspective of Budo the imaginary friend, but there are two stories in this novel. Budo’s story is interesting in that through his eyes the world of imaginary friends is given shape and substance. As his story expands, he provides glimpses of Max’s idiosyncrasies.  It is when Max’s story emerges more fully that the full impact of the novel can be seen. Even while laughing at some of Max and Budo’s antics, most especially as they pertain to Max’s public bathroom practices, my heart went out to Max. I became thankful for the existence of imaginary friends to help him learn to cope with his compulsions and social awkwardness and survive everyday reality.

While the concept of imaginary friends seems like child’s play, this novel is not for children. Max may be the only person with whom Budo can interact with, but he observes all that is going on around Max. What Budo sees and overhears gave me pause. No one ever wants to think of  being observed at their less than glowing moments, even if it is by a benevolent imaginary friend. That Matthew Dicks crafted his novel in such a way as to give an almost 3D view of the life of a child with emotional and social issues impressed me. The teachers, the parents, and Max are all shielded in one way or another from the complete picture. It is Budo alone who carries Max’s full weight. As a parent, how could I not love Budo? How could I not worry as much about him as I do the child who created him?

I’ve got to believe that when he was given this project that Matthew Brown must have wondered exactly how one gives voice to the imaginary friend of an elementary school child. Narrating a child in and of itself must be a challenge for an adult, but this requires narrating something that exists only within the child’s mind. Whatever process he went through to finish Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Matthew Brown was perfect. He captured Budo’s innocence, experience, both wanted and unwanted, and fluctuating feelings with care and conviction. From the first words I could almost feel him fit snugly into Budo’s skin. It made for a spectacular performance.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend does for imaginary friends what Toy Story did for toys. While glued to my car the entire I listened to this audiobook, I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty for forgetting whether I had and discarded imaginary friends of my own. Matthew Dicks created wonderful and lasting characters in Budo and Max. His storytelling and Matthew Brown’s narration made for an unforgettable reading experience. I cannot recommend this book enough.

10 Comments

  • At 2012.08.20 08:22, Beth Hoffman said:

    Thanks for bringing this book to my attention, Jennifer. You’ve totally hooked me and I have the feeling I’ll love it. It’s going on my To Buy list immediately!

    • At 2012.08.20 10:12, Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said:

      My mama says I had one. I desperately wish I could remember him.

      • At 2012.08.20 10:12, Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said:

        This sounds great btw. Thanks for the review.

        • At 2012.08.20 12:52, bermudaonion(Kathy) said:

          As far as I know, I never had an imaginary friend. This book sounds interesting and it sounds like the narration was masterful.

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          • At 2012.08.20 20:52, CLM said:

            Odd but intriguing! Enjoyed your review!

            • At 2012.08.21 09:30, Roof Beam Reader said:

              This actually sounds very interesting…. just added it to my wish list. (Thanks a lot… sigh…)

              • [...] and find the link to a sample of the Macmillan audiobook on these blogs: Jenn’s Bookshelves The Literate Housewife The Reading Frenzy (includes author interview) Shelf Awareness (includes narrator [...]

                • At 2012.08.28 20:58, Laurie C said:

                  I liked this audiobook, too, although I wasn’t sure I would at the very beginning. Enjoyed your review, and the idea that you felt guilty that you might not have kept an imaginary friend alive! On the Internet, we’re all kind of imaginary friends, aren’t we? ;)

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                  • At 2012.09.04 15:58, Cynthia Becker said:

                    Jennifer,

                    I found this book while browsing the new books shelf in my local library. It was a brand new, untouched copy – always a treat with library books. After reading page one, I decided to take it home. Once started, I could not put it down. Your review is right on target.

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                    • At 2012.09.18 15:18, Why have children? (Part 2) | musingmummy said:

                      [...] #454 ~ Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend (literatehousewife.com) [...]

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