Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Best Friend

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks is a story told from the perspective of an imaginary friend, Budo.  Budo's human friend is Max.  Max is an 8 year old boy who has autism.  Budo believes that he will only exist for as long as Max believes in him.  His life depends on Max's belief, but according to Budo, this does not make him any less real.  As he explains, an astronaunt who is tethered to a spaceship is not unreal just because he will die without the spaceship.

Max faces lots of challeges that children with autism often face, such as having a difficult time speaking with others, and being bullied.  Budo helps Max in those circumstances, which may account for Budo's unusually long life.  About half way through the story, Max and Budo begin their battle with a real life bad guy, and it is through this episode that Max shows his hidden strengths.

Budo has real insight into what makes a great teacher.  Mrs. Gosk is an amazing teacher because she loves the kids in her class, even the difficult ones, like Max.  She finds ways to keep the kids engaged, while not letting them get away with misbehavior.  Budo says that you can tell that Mrs. Gosk is a great teacher, because she is being a teacher, not acting like one.  He explains that teachers who don't really love their kids are play acting at teaching, and just doing a job to get through the day.  For an imaginary friend, he is pretty observant.

Memoirs is a very fast read.  Budo tells his story in a simple and straight forward voice, but he often repeats himself.  I think that this was intentional, given that Budo is only allowed to be as smart as a young child imagined him to be, but it did get a little old. 

I liked the idea of a society of imaginary friends who are able to interact with one another, and of imaginary friends appearing when people need them.  Budo clearly loves and understands Max.  In the end, Budo realizes that what Max's mom is always saying is really true - the right thing to do is usually the hardest thing.  But most of the time it's worth it. 

Memoirs was my first book for the 2014 Rewind Challenge.  It is also The Typical Book Group's book for this month, so I will have more to say about it after we meet in a couple of weeks.

Next Up:  The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

Still (STILL) Listening To:  Winter of the World by Ken Follett 

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