Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks (or Matthew Green as he is published in the UK), follows the story of Budo, the imaginary friend of Max Delaney, an eight-year-old boy who is on the spectrum. As far as imaginary friends go, Budo is ancient. At five years old he is the oldest imaginary friend he knows. Imaginary friends are created for a number of reasons, in times of great stress, near death experiences, and to cope with the changes of early childhood. Most imaginary friends don’t survive kindergarten. As children become more socialized, they tend to stop needing their imaginary friends and as a result stop believing in them. When this happens, imaginary friends disappear.
While imaginary friends can only be seen and heard by the people who imagined them and not the general public, they can also interact with other imaginary friends. Through Budo we are introduced to a colorful cast of imaginary characters including a fairy, a mobile paper doll, and a talking spoon. With the help of those characters among others, Budo must act to save his friend Max from Mrs. Patterson, Max’s parapsychologist and teacher gone rogue. But in doing so Budo must also put himself in danger of disappearing forever.
Memoirs was thoroughly engaging. It was funny and endearing while still maintaining a poignant edge. It manages to balance its lightness with equal gravity by exploring the fascinating realm of imaginary creations, what it means to live, and the price of growing up.