Imaginary Enemy

Imaginary Enemy

by Julie Gonzalez

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Jane White goes by the pen name Gabriel when she writes letters to Bubba, her imaginary enemy. She’s been writing to Bubba (short for Beelzebub) since second grade, blaming him every time something in her life goes wrong. It’s never her fault! She doesn’t want to admit that her impetuous behavior and smart-mouthed comments often land her in trouble. And now that she’s a teenager, Jane’s slacker ways exude an I-don’tcare attitude. But Jane does care. She cares about fitting in at school; she cares that Sharp deMichael and his brothers next door think of her as normal and start excluding her from their offbeat plans; and she definitely cares the day she receives a letter from Bubba. How can an imaginary enemy write back? Just as the time comes for Jane to face her lifelong foe–she must also decide whether or not to assume responsibility for her actions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375846380
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 03/11/2008
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 345 KB
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Julie Gonzalez’s previous young adult novels are Ricochet and Wings. She lives in Pensacola, Florida.

Read an Excerpt

Imaginary Enemy

By Julie Gonzalez Delacorte Books for Young Readers Copyright © 2008 Julie Gonzalez
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780385905305

Spilled Milk

It’s not unusual to have an imaginary friend. Many people do (or did, at any rate, somewhere in their histories). But me? I can honestly tell you that I have no imaginary friend. Not one.

What I have is an imaginary enemy. He’s such a satisfying companion—very therapeutic to have around. He’s helped me through a number of personal disasters and misadventures over the years. I call my imaginary enemy Bubba—short for Beelzebub, which is a biblical devil’s name. Pretty good way to address an enemy, wouldn’t you agree?

Bubba’s not necessarily physically unattractive, but this is one of those “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” situations. ’Cause that’s where Bubba reveals his true colors—on the inside. He’s a sneak and a liar and a troublemaker who delights in seeing my life go wrong. My miseries are his homemade ice cream. My heartbreaks are his Godiva chocolates. My failures are his double cheeseburgers and deep-dish pizzas. You get the picture.

When Bubba makes me angry, I write him a letter expressing my displeasure. The first time I wrote to Bubba was in second grade.

Dear Budda,

You spilled milk on the lunchroom floor. I slipped in it and ripped a hole inmy new overalls. My knee bled. Everyone laughed. I don’t like you.

Sinfully yours, Gabriel

Gabriel isn’t my real name. It’s just the name I use in my relationship with Bubba. No point in being overly familiar with an enemy, especially an imaginary one. Gabriel, like Bubba, is biblical—one of the heavenly superstars, along with his pals Michael and Raphael. Gabriel is chief of the archangels—God’s right-hand halo polisher. Kind of like vice president if God is top dog. I imagine him to have beautiful ivory-colored wings tipped with moonlight and a halo of red gold that undulates like the ripples on the surface of a pond.

With my Bubba letter clasped in my hand, I asked my teacher, Mrs. Perkins, for a piece of tape, but when she realized I wanted to hang my message on the classroom wall, she refused. “Jane, why are you writing Buddha a letter about spilled milk?” she asked.


“The founder of the religion Buddhism. He was a very wise spiritual leader.”

“Not Buddha, Bubba,” I replied insistently. Cold air from the air conditioner breezed though the hole in the knee of my overalls.

Mrs. Perkins raised her eyebrow. Just one eyebrow. That was the coolest thing about her—she could raise her left eyebrow like a marine raising the flag up the pole. “Then you inverted your lowercase Bs again.” She tapped the letter. “Who’s Bubba?”

“A dirty rotten milk-spilling creep,” I answered.

“Go sit down and behave yourself, Jane.” Mrs. Perkins sounded exasperated. I stalked back to my seat clutching Bubba’s letter and stashed it in my math folder. A fairly modest beginning to what has proven to be a long and fruitless relationship.


Since you know my name’s not really Gabriel, I might as well tell you the three embarrassing appellations my parents attached to my birth certificate sixteen years ago. I can’t believe they did me such dishonor. Start with Jane. That’s J-A-N-E. As in Plain Jane, which the more poetic schoolyard bullies have called me since kindergarten. Along with Birdbrain Jane, Migraine Jane, and Jane the Pain. All because my parents named me after this prehistoric aunt of Mom’s who they particularly admire.

My middle name’s even worse. Venezuela—like the South American country. Great name for a country. Very lyrical and seductive. But a middle name for a girl? Venezuela? That’s where my parents met. It was nothing terribly romantic if you ask me. My mother was visiting her college roommate, a beautiful but unsuccessful South American poet, and my recently divorced father was on a fishing vacation with his brother, my uncle Grayson. Dad’s cooler of semifrozen baitfish leaked on Mom’s suitcase in the hotel elevator, and she insisted he buy her a new one because of the awful smell and the stains. Who knew they’d end up with a bunch of kids and a dog? When I complain about my name, Dad thinks it’s a real laugh to say, “We could have named you Caracas instead of Jane.” (For the geographically impaired, Caracas is the capital of Venezuela.)

Now (drumroll, please) for my absolutely generic last name: White. Like clouds or snow or cotton. Like flour or sugar or milk. Like boredom.


When I was just over a year old, my parents got frisky. My brother Lysander was born nine and a half months later. He’s named after one of the confused, love-struck youths in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Dad’s a Shakespeare freak). My brother hates his name. Go figure. He tells everyone to call him Zander.

Sixteen months after Zander came my sister, Carmella, whose name evokes visions of bonfires, gypsy music, starlit nights, and silver bangles. Me Jane, Plain Jane—You Carmella. Talk about a prize-winning recipe for some vicious sibling rivalry.

Dear Bubba,

Shakespeare might have his “What’s in a name?” thing, but he wasn’t dubbed Jane Venezuela White. Why would you ever allow anyone to go through life being addressed so blandly? And you claim to love me.

A rose by any other name, Gabriel


My half brother, Luke, who’s five years older than me, sat by my side on the sofa playing a video game. He’s the offspring of Dad’s youthful marriage to his high-school sweetheart, Sandy. “Gotcha,” Luke said as his character zapped mine. The screen lit up in neon blue flashes as my player sizzled and lost a dose of power.

“Bully,” I snarled.

He laughed. “No crybabies allowed.”

“I’m no crybaby,” I protested. Crybaby was the ultimate insult someone could hurl at an ornery seven- year-old.

“Pay attention, loser!” He detonated his weapon and my character strobed once again.

I pushed a pulsating radioactive boulder over him. “Take that!”

His character fizzled out in a puff of purple smoke. “Yikes!” he exclaimed, laughing.

“I like it when you come over,” I said. Luke spent Wednesdays and alternate weekends with us. And sometimes he came for unscheduled visits. This was one of those. He’d ridden his bike to our house after school.

From the Hardcover edition.


Excerpted from Imaginary Enemy by Julie Gonzalez Copyright © 2008 by Julie Gonzalez. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Imaginary Enemy 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow. One of my favourite books of all time! (I'm in my teens) I totally recommend this book to anyone who doesn't mind a little cheesiness. I love Jane's character and how Gonzalez tells the story of Jane's childhood and of the present kind of mingled together. I also like how the author made Jane seem more real by giving her a half-brother. I respected this because I have a half-brother myself and I grew up trying to explain how it worked. People don't realize, however, that many people these days have half siblings... okay now I'm off topic... ANYWAYS... I felt as though I could relate to Jane's character in many ways. THIS IS AN AWESOME BOOK! READ IT!
Sandra305 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the idea of the imaginary enemy--I thought this was quite an original concept. I also loved the quirky family next door with their passion for music, and I loved Jane's friend Emma. I think Jane's character could have been more fully developed, and some of the plotting seemed a bit contrived, but overall it was a fun read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book of all time. I love it so much. I've read so many times, and it never gets old. Thank you Julie Gonzalez.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loves_Echo More than 1 year ago
Jane's 'safety blanket' of sorts is to write to her imaginary enemy, Bubba. It starts out as a child's blame game but l8er turned out 2 be a way to vent frustration for Jane. It's a believable story...and sometimes Jane's a jerk but everyone has those moments when they act like a jerk bcuz something is eating at them inside. It was also very entertaining and I love the jumble of's a busy story and a gr8 read 4 anybody and gives you a good understanding of someone who just wants 2 be normal but not have 2 follow the rules of the "Normal Anarchy" wants 2 create their own kind of normal but have it be accepted. I can real8 and I think a lot of ppl can. And yes, there's that perfect ammount of romance in it that doesn't swallow up the novel, but gives it a frequency 2 follow and more entertainment
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the book to be very interesting. It really opened my eyes to a few things. I would most definately recommend others to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Looking for a fun book? This one is for you. Many people grow up having had at least one imaginary friend. Jane White has an imaginary enemy.

It all started in second grade when Jane began writing to Bubba. Whenever life would throw her a curve ball to upset her or embarrass her, she would sit down and write Bubba a letter to complain. Bubba was always there to collect the blame or abuse Jane tossed in his direction. Imagine her surprise when one day she received a letter addressed to her from Bubba.

Named after an eccentric aunt, Jane hates her name, and finds herself constantly battling her strange family and friends. There is the half-brother who suddenly decides to leave his mother's house and move in with Jane's family. There are younger siblings who constantly annoy Jane. The family's father figure suffers a mid-life meltdown only to quit his job and begin a new career. Add to all that a bunch of odd neighbors who home-school their children and ¿collect¿ sounds. Jane's problems are actually quite typical, but her creative way of dealing with them makes her story well worth reading.

Author Julie Gonzalez expertly combines all this in a fast-paced story that will hold the attention of middle grade and teen readers, as well as any grownup who remembers their own roller-coaster ride to adulthood. This comic novel is a fine addition to any individual or library collection.
_Liv-On_ More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best and most memorable ones I've ever read.
It takes all sorts of subjects and combines them into something that's makes you laugh and think. These characters aren't afraid to be different. Jane is simple but complex at the same time. She doesn't want to be the responsible one,but soon something make her realize she has to.
And the ending is one of the best I've read in a long time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
it took me a day to read i couldn't put the book down i liked it because of the demichaels and her family it had drama,mystery,comedy,and love
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. It captures your mind, and I couldn't seem to put it down, even though I'm not used to these kinds of books. I usually read fantasy and sci-fi. I like the fact that the main character has a good sense of humor. I enjoyed this book and I think a lot of people will.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Becasue the last book i read was about the end of the world and millions of people were dying or hungry, i decided it would be a good idea to read something a bit less serious and i little more quirky, which is exactly what this book was. Good book to choose if you don't feel like reading something ultra sad and deep.