[Originally posted on May 21, 2013 here]
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend: A Novel
by Matthew Dicks
This story introduces us to a parallel world inhabited by imaginary friends whose existence depends upon their “imaginer friends” believing in them. Narrated by Budo, imaginary friend to Max, an eight-year old boy who “lives mostly on the inside.” Max is different from most of his peers, and because of this, he is often misunderstood and often bullied. Even his parents are largely mystified by him, and his differences cause much tension between his mom and dad; his mom wants to get him help, while his dad wants to pretend that Max is “normal.” Only Budo understands Max and accepts him just as he is.
Although the term “autism” is never used in the book, it’s understood that Max has autism. I have no idea how accurately it portrays a child “on the spectrum,” and I have no idea if the author has any personal connection to anyone with autism. I’m always wary of reading about Down syndrome, being the parent of a child with Down syndrome – wary of stereotypes and misconceptions, especially when reading things by anyone who doesn’t actually have a personal connection to Down syndrome. As I was reading this book, I kept wondering how I would perceive it if I were the parent of a child with autism.
In any case, Memoirs of An Imaginary Friend is a novel, and it doesn’t set out to explain or advocate for autism; it sets out to tell a story about a boy and his imaginary friend, and about love and loyalty and sacrifice: ” . . . the hard thing and the right thing are usually the same thing,” Budo realizes when Max is abducted by a disturbed paraprofessional and Budo figures out that the only way he may be able to save Max is to sacrifice his own existence.
Easy read; really enjoyed it.