Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

( 31 )

Overview

Imaginary friend Budo narrates this heartwarming story of love, loyalty, and the power of the imagination—the perfect read for anyone who has ever had a friend . . . real or otherwise

Budo is lucky as imaginary friends go. He's been alive for more than five years, which is positively ancient in the world of imaginary friends. But Budo feels his age, and thinks constantly of the day when eight-year-old Max Delaney will stop believing in ...

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Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend: A Novel

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Overview

Imaginary friend Budo narrates this heartwarming story of love, loyalty, and the power of the imagination—the perfect read for anyone who has ever had a friend . . . real or otherwise

Budo is lucky as imaginary friends go. He's been alive for more than five years, which is positively ancient in the world of imaginary friends. But Budo feels his age, and thinks constantly of the day when eight-year-old Max Delaney will stop believing in him. When that happens, Budo will disappear.

Max is different from other children. Some people say that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, but most just say he’s “on the spectrum.” None of this matters to Budo, who loves Max and is charged with protecting him from the class bully, from awkward situations in the cafeteria, and even in the bathroom stalls. But he can’t protect Max from Mrs. Patterson, the woman who works with Max in the Learning Center and who believes that she alone is qualified to care for this young boy.

When Mrs. Patterson does the unthinkable and kidnaps Max, it is up to Budo and a team of imaginary friends to save him—and Budo must ultimately decide which is more important: Max’s happiness or Budo's very existence.

Narrated by Budo, a character with a unique ability to have a foot in many worlds—imaginary, real, child, and adult— Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend touches on the truths of life, love, and friendship as it races to a heartwarming . . . and heartbreaking conclusion.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Elementary school teacher Dicks’s quirky and pleasant newest (after Unexpectedly, Milo) is narrated by Budo, eight-year-old Max Delaney’s imaginary friend of five years, who also serves as Max’s guardian/confidante and can only “persist” so long as Max doesn’t “forget” about him. Max’s dad, a manager at a Connecticut Burger King, and Max’s mom, a manager at Aetna, argue and fret about the introverted Max, a “late bloomer” and “special needs” student. The charmingly sophisticated Budo likes Max’s teacher, Mrs. Gosk, but he’s suspicious of Mrs. Patterson, his paraprofessional. Budo’s wariness proves well-founded when the “little-boy-stealing devil” Mrs. Patterson (who is grief-stricken over the death of her son, Scotty) kidnaps Max. The tenacious Budo finds him in Mrs. Patterson’s basement playing with Legos; since Budo can only communicate with Max, he enlists imaginary friends Oswald the Giant and Teeny the fairy to orchestrate Max’s release. But while Budo fights to free Max, he also has his own tenuous existence to worry about. A chipper narrative and lively climax make Dicks’s newest a fun read and engaging exploration of the vibrant world of a child’s imagination. Agent: Taryn Fagerness.(Aug.)
From the Publisher
“A novel as creative, brave, and pitch-perfect as its narrator, an imaginary friend named Budo, who reminds us that bravery comes in the most unlikely forms. It has been a long time since I read a book that has captured me so completely, and has wowed me with its unique vision. You've never read a book like this before. As Budo himself might say: Believe me.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Sing You Home

Wholly original and completely unputdownable. MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND is a captivating story told in a voice so clever and honest I didn’t want it to end. The arresting voice of THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME with the emotional power of ROOM and the whimsy of DROP DEAD FRED, but in a class of its own.” —Eleanor Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters

"An incredibly captivating novel about the wonder of youth and the importance of friendship, whether real or imagined. Delightfully compelling reading." —Booklist

"[A] fun read and engaging exploration of the vibrant world of a child's imagination." —Publishers Weekly

"Quirky and heartwarming" —Kirkus

Kirkus Reviews
An imaginary friend can be the best friend a boy's got. But how can an imaginary friend help when the boy faces very real danger? Max, 8, is on the autism spectrum. His loving parents struggle to make a secure life for him, although his father cannot quite face that his son is different. Max is able to cope with the close quarters of public school, the unpredictable people and the surprises of everyday life with the help of not only his parents, but also his teacher, Mrs. Gosk, and his imaginary friend, Budo. Told from Budo's perspective, Dicks' (Unexpectedly, Milo, 2010, etc.) latest novel explores the interior life of an imaginary friend, and imaginary friends have one overriding concern: What will happen to them when their imaginer forgets them? Budo is lucky that Max imagined him fully; a lot of the other friends he meets are missing ears, feet or even recognizable bodies. Max also imagined Budo as a bit older than himself, and this slightly more mature perspective comes in very handy when things go wrong for Max. Budo is a lifesaver. Literally. Budo helps Max find words, stops him from running out into traffic, and even helps him survive a terrifying encounter with the fifth-grade bully, Tommy Swinden, in a bathroom stall. But Budo is thwarted when Max begins to meet with Mrs. Patterson, an assistant teacher, in her car. Privately. During the school day. And Max won't let Budo come along. Suddenly, Max disappears. This time, Budo will have to go out into the world alone, and since he cannot interact with any adults, he will have to rely on the imaginary friends of other children to save Max. Budo is charming, but Dick's previous novels have treated eccentric characters with more success. The childlike perspective and simplistic syntax of this novel clash with its quite adult concerns of autism and child abduction. Quirky and heartwarming, but thin.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781410456304
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 3/27/2013
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 511
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 5.80 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

MATTHEW DICKS is a writer and elementary school teacher. His articles have been published in the Hartford Courant and he has been a featured author at the Books on the Nightstand retreat. He is also a Moth storyteller and a two-time StorySLAM champion. Dicks is the author of two previous novels, Something Missing and Unexpectedly Milo. He lives in Newington, Connecticut, with his wife, Elysha, and their children, Clara and Charlie. 

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Read an Excerpt

one

 

 

Here is what I know:

My name is Budo.

I have been alive for five years.

Five years is a very long time for someone like me to be alive.

Max gave me my name.

Max is the only human person who can see me.

Max’s parents call me an imaginary friend.

I love Max’s teacher, Mrs. Gosk.

I do not like Max’s other teacher, Mrs. Patterson.

I am not imaginary.

 

 

two

I am lucky as imaginary friends go. I have been alive for a lot longer than most. I once knew an imaginary friend named Philippe. He was the imaginary friend of one of Max’s classmates in preschool. He lasted less than a week. One day he popped into the world, looking pretty human except for his lack of ears (lots of imaginary friends lack ears), and then a few days later, he was gone.

I’m also lucky that Max has a great imagination. I once knew an imaginary friend named Chomp who was just a spot on the wall. Just a fuzzy, black blob without any real shape at all. Chomp could talk and sort of slide up and down the wall, but he was two-dimensional like a piece of paper, so he could never pry himself off. He didn’t have arms and legs like me. He didn’t even have a face.

Imaginary friends get their appearance from their human friend’s imagination. Max is a very creative boy, and so I have two arms, two legs, and a face. I’m not missing a single body part and that makes me a rarity in the world of imaginary friends. Most imaginary friends are missing something or other and some don’t even look human at all. Like Chomp.

Too much imagination can be bad, though. I once met an imaginary friend named Pterodactyl whose eyes were stuck on the ends of these two gangly, green antennas. His human friend probably thought they looked cool, but poor Pterodactyl couldn’t focus on anything to save his life. He told me that he constantly felt sick to his stomach and was always tripping over his own feet, which were just fuzzy shadows attached to his legs. His human friend was so obsessed with Pterodactyl’s head and those eyes that he had never bothered to think about anything below Pterodactyl’s waist.

This is not unusual.

I’m also lucky because I’m mobile. Lots of imaginary friends are stuck to their human friends. Some have leashes around their necks. Some are three inches tall and get stuffed into coat pockets. And some are nothing more than a spot on the wall, like Chomp. But thanks to Max, I can get around on my own. I can even leave Max behind if I want.

But doing so too often might be hazardous to my health.

As long as Max believes in me, I exist. People like Max’s mother and my friend Graham say that this is what makes me imaginary. But it’s not true. I might need Max’s imagination to exist, but I have my own thoughts, my own ideas, and my own life outside of him. I am tied to Max the same way that an astronaut is tied to his spaceship by hoses and wires. If the spaceship blows up and the astronaut dies, that doesn’t mean that the astronaut was imaginary. It just means that his life support was cut off.

Same for me and Max.

I need Max in order to survive, but I’m still my own person. I can say and do as I please. Sometimes Max and I even get into arguments, but nothing ever serious. Just stuff about which TV show to watch or which game to play. But it behooves me (that’s a word that Mrs. Gosk taught the class last week) to stick around Max whenever possible, because I need Max to keep thinking about me. Keep believing in me. I don’t want to end up out of sight, out of mind, which is something Max’s mom sometimes says when Max’s dad forgets to call home when he is going to be late. If I am gone too long, Max might stop believing in me, and if that happens, then poof.

 

 

three

Max’s first-grade teacher once said that houseflies live for about three days. I wonder what the life span of an imaginary friend is? Probably not much longer. I guess that makes me practically ancient.

Max imagined me when he was four years old, and just like that, I popped into existence. When I was born, I only knew what Max knew. I knew my colors and some of my numbers and the names for lots of things like tables and microwave ovens and aircraft carriers. My head was filled with the things that a four-year-old boy would know. But Max also imagined me much older than him. Probably a teenager. Maybe even a little older. Or maybe I was just a boy with a grown-up’s brain. It’s hard to tell. I’m not much taller than Max, but I’m definitely different. I was more together than Max when I was born. I could make sense of things that still confused him. I could see the answers to problems that Max could not. Maybe this is how all imaginary friends are born. I don’t know.

Max doesn’t remember the day that I was born, so he can’t remember what he was thinking at the time. But since he imagined me as older and more together, I have been able to learn much faster than Max. I was able to concentrate and focus better on the day I was born than Max is able to even today. On that first day I remember Max’s mother was trying to teach him to count by even numbers, and he just couldn’t get it. But I learned it right away. It made sense to me because my brain was ready to learn even numbers. Max’s brain wasn’t.

At least that’s what I think.

Also, I don’t sleep, because Max didn’t imagine that I needed sleep. So I have more time to learn. And I don’t spend all my time with Max, so I’ve learned lots of things that Max has never seen or heard before. After he goes to bed, I sit in the living room or the kitchen with Max’s parents. We watch television or I just listen to them talk. Sometimes I go places. I go to the gas station that never closes, because my favorite people in the world except for Max and his parents and Mrs. Gosk are there. Or I go to Doogies hot-dog restaurant a little ways down the road or to the police station or to the hospital (except I don’t go to the hospital anymore because Oswald is there and he scares me). And when we are in school, I sometimes go to the teacher’s lounge or another classroom, and sometimes I even go to the principal’s office, just to listen to what’s going on. I am not smarter than Max, but I know a lot more than him just because I am awake more and go places that Max can’t. This is good. Sometimes I can help Max when he doesn’t understand something so well.

Like last week Max couldn’t open a jar of jelly to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “Budo!” he said. “I can’t open it.”

“Sure you can,” I said. “Turn it the other way. Lefty loosy. Righty tighty.” That is something I hear Max’s mom say to herself sometimes before she opens a jar. It worked. Max opened the jar. But he was so excited that he dropped it on the tile floor, smashing it into a million pieces.

The world can be so complicated for Max. Even when he gets something right, it can still go wrong.

*   *   *

I live in a strange place in the world. 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 and my friends at the gas station, except they can’t see me. Max’s mom would call this straddling the fence. She says this to Max when he can’t make up his mind about something, which happens a lot.

“Do you want the blue Popsicle or the yellow Popsicle?” she asks, and Max just freezes. Freezes like a Popsicle. There are just too many things for Max to think about when choosing.

Is red better than yellow?

Is green better than blue?

Which one is colder?

Which one will melt fastest?

What does green taste like?

What does red taste like?

Do different colors taste different?

I wish that Max’s mom would just make the choice for Max. She knows how hard it is for him. But when she makes him choose and he can’t, I sometimes choose for him. I whisper, “Pick blue,” and then he says, “I’ll take blue.” Then it’s done. No more straddling the fence.

That’s kind of how I live. I straddle the fence. I live in the yellow and the blue world. I live with kids and I live with adults. I’m not exactly a kid, but I’m not exactly an adult, either.

I’m yellow and blue.

I’m green.

I know my color combinations, too.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Matthew Dicks

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 31 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(21)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Every once in a while, a book that falls outside of my normal re

    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.
    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.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Budo and Max are best friends, Max created Budo from his imagina

    Budo and Max are best friends, Max created Budo from his imagination.
    Budo is Max’s imaginary friend. Budo is different from other imaginary
    friends, he’s been alive for longer than any imaginary friend he knows
    and he looks more human than a lot of imaginary friends do, that’s
    because Max is different than most boys his age. Max lives inside
    himself a lot, he doesn’t like to be touched and sometimes he get’s
    “stuck” inside himself too, this makes him a target for bullies and the
    other kids don’t know how to act around him so they mostly avoid him.
    Imaginary friends can see other imaginary friends even though they are
    only visible to the friend that created them and Budo has befriended and
    lost many imaginary friends since he’s been alive. Budo loves Max’s mom
    and dad, he loves Max’s school and most of his teachers, but not all of
    them. Budo also hopes that since Max is different that means that he
    won’t “disappear” like other imaginary friends have done, maybe Max will
    need him forever or at least a long, long time, because the one thing
    that scares Budo is disappearing. I have to admit that several things
    caught my attention about this novel, first the title and second the
    premise, so after being reeled in by those things I was totally hooked
    when I started reading the book. The narrative is intelligent, witty,
    innocent and adult. The story is told by Budo the imaginary friend of an
    8 year old suspected autistic boy named Max, we follow Max and Budo
    through their very interesting life and the lives of the people and
    imaginary friends around them, and then something happens which gives
    the novel a very different feel as they get caught up in a dangerous
    situation and how they go about getting out of it. It’s about life, it’s
    about death, it’s about being brave, being scared and doing the right
    thing even at the cost of your own survival to help those you love, it’s
    a journey into unknown danger and how to persevere. And if you’re
    anything like me by the end of the read you’ll have been dragged through
    the gauntlet of emotions and wish you had a friend like Budo too.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2013

    Totally believable

    The writing is so real, I found myself believing in "imaginary"friends. Love this novel as the mom of a child on the autism spectrum, but love it as a human being as well...I've found my favorite book of the year.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2012

    My new favorite book!

    Absolutely love this, still crying warm tears. Full of love and hope. Beautiful.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2013

    A truly unforgettable story.  I finished it late last night and

    A truly unforgettable story.  I finished it late last night and wept.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 31, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This is a book that I really enjoyed. It was one of those that

    This is a book that I really enjoyed. It was one of those that I could not wait until I had free time to read it. In summary, It is a story told from an Imaginary Friend named Budo. Budo was created by Max and he has lived longer than most imaginary friends. Max has Aspergers. One day max is kidnapped and it is up to Budo to save him.
    The only reason I don't give it 5 stars is because the language in one chapter was a little rough. He did us gd some in the book. I just felt like the language was not necessary. But other than that it is a great book and I would recommend it to anyone.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2013

    Absolutely loved the refreshing and original storyline.

    Memoirs of an imaginary friend by the imaginary friend -- how original.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

    A must read!

    I knew Matthew Dick's was a magical writer after reading the first page of his first book, "Something Missing." "Memoirs is in a whole new category. Matthew Dick's has managed to capture the complexities of what it means to grow up, let go, love unconditionally.

    This book literally will make you laugh and cry, sometimes at once! Every page is an adventure and I for one cannot wait to see what brilliance Dick's brings us fans next!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 16, 2012

    Wow!! What a concept! What a great story!!

    Wow!! What a concept! What a great story!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 2, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend has been on my to-read list for

    Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend has been on my to-read list for over a year and a half. It likely would still be on my to-read list if my mother hadn't recently read the book and told me how great it was. Yeah, I had seen the good reviews for it on Goodreads, but it's a little different coming from my mom. So in the middle of yesterday's blackout (25 hours without power is no fun, by the way), I picked it up and began reading. The only thing I could think after I started was that I wished I would have read it sooner.

    Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is an incredible book. It was tender and heartbreaking in a way that I couldn't have anticipated. I cried. It was just so sweet and touching that I couldn't help it. It wasn't all sad, though. There were funny moments to balance out the sadness.

    Certainly unique, the book is told through the eyes of Max's imaginary friend. I was surprised at just how real Budo was and how much I enjoyed seeing life as Budo does. It's unlike anything else I've read before and I'm not sure that anyone else could possibly come close to writing a story from an imaginary friend's POV like this one.

    Overall, I just loved this book. I recommend it to anyone searching for a touching story or something a little different than you'd normally read. Don't be like me and allow the imaginary friend POV to keep you from reading a book for months on end.

    You can read all of my reviews on my blog, KDH Reviews.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2014

    Wonderful!

    Wonderful!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2014

    Amazing read

    A clever and touching story...I loved it from beginning to end.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2014

    Powerful!

    The world through the eyes of an imaginary friend...kept me turning the pages. The best novel i have read in 2014!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2014

    Wow

    A very powerfull book

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  • Posted December 30, 2013

    Max is on the autism spectrum (no specific diagnosis is offered

    Max is on the autism spectrum (no specific diagnosis is offered or necessary) and his imaginary friend Budo tells the story in an elementary-school voice but with (inadvertent) adult insight. It is fascinating to learn about the world of imaginary friends, as well as to hear Budo explain Max's perspective on his world. The main dramatic plot is leavened with lots of humor and a number of interesting subplots. The story moves quickly and, once started, you'll be reluctant to put this book down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2013

    Mmemiors of an Imaginary Friend

    I loved this book.Warm, funny, and insightful at once. Keen insight on autism, but an easy,fun read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2013

    Recommended for middle school not for adults

    Choosing to tell the story through the eyes of an imaginary friend is interesting. But making this friend the narrator didn't work. It made the narrator and everyone around him unidimensional and a little flat.

    This would be an excellent book to read for a middle schooler. There is some suspense and it touches on an universal childhood fear, but never becomes brutal or too scary. Because it stays PG, it misses the complexity to be considered a book targeted for adults.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    So inventive

    This has to be one of the most creative books I've ever read. I'm not usually a fan of "fantasy" fiction but this book blew me away. Budo and Max are possibly my new favorite literary couple.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    This book is unlike any I have ever read. Its one that will sti

    This book is unlike any I have ever read. Its one that will stick with me for a long time. I think it should be required reading for all teachers. You can't go wrong with this selection. I am planning to use it in my book club.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2012

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