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Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fiction (2012)
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.

311 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

Matthew Dicks

16 books981 followers
Matthew Dicks is the internationally bestselling author of the novels Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Something Missing, Unexpectedly, Milo, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, and the upcoming novels The Other Mother and Cardboard Knight, as well as the nonfiction Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Art of Storytelling. His novels have been translated into more than 25 languages worldwide.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend was the 2014 Dolly Gray Award winner and was nominated for a 2017 Nutmeg Award in Connecticut. Matthew was also awarded first prize in 2016 and second prize in 2017 in the Magazine/Humorous Column category by the CT Society of Professional Journalists.

He is also the author of the rock opera The Clowns and the musicals Caught in the Middle, Sticks & Stones, and Summertime. He has written comic books for Double Take comics. He is a columnist for Seasons magazine and has published work in Reader's Digest, The Hartford Courant, Parents magazine, The Huffington Post, and The Christian Science Monitor. He was awarded first prize for opinion writing in 2015 by the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists.

When not hunched over a computer screen, Matthew fills his days as an elementary school teacher, a storyteller, a speaking coach, a blogger, a wedding DJ, a minister, a life coach, and a Lord of Sealand. He has been teaching for 20 years and is a former West Hartford Teacher of the Year and a finalist for Connecticut Teacher of the Year.

Matthew is a 35-time Moth StorySLAM champion and 5-time GrandSLAM champion whose stories have been featured on their nationally syndicated Moth Radio Hour and their weekly podcast. He has also told stories for This American Life, TED, The Colin McEnroe Show, The Story Collider, The Liar Show, Literary Death Match, The Mouth, and many others. He has performed in such venues as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Wilbur Theater, The Academy of Music in North Hampton, CT, The Bynam Theater of Pittsburgh, The Bell House in NYC, The Lebanon Opera House, Boston University, and Infinity Hall in Hartford, CT.

He is a regular guest on several Slate podcasts, including The Gist, where he teaches storytelling.

Matthew is also the co-founder and creative director of Speak Up, a Hartford-based storytelling organization that produces shows throughout New England. He teaches storytelling and public speaking to individuals, corporations, and school districts around the world. He has most recently taught at Yale University, The University of Connecticut Law School, Purdue University, The Connecticut Historical Society, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Miss Porter's School, The Berkshire School, and Graded School in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Matthew is the creator and co-host of Boy vs. Girl, a podcast about gender and gender stereotypes.

Matthew is married to friend and fellow teacher, Elysha, and they have two children, Clara and Charlie. He grew up in the small town of Blackstone, Massachusetts, where he made a name for himself by dying twice before the age of eighteen and becoming the first student in his high school to be suspended for inciting riot upon himself.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,099 reviews
Profile Image for Kim.
286 reviews779 followers
September 2, 2013

I am a horrible person (ME.ME.ME.ME.ME.ME). I am worse than a horrible person. I am a killer. I am worse than a killer.
I am a killer of dreams.

My daughter, Marley, was about 3 when she introduced me to Hartluv. At first I thought that there were some hippy parents who subjected their child to this moniker. Maybe someone in her pre-school class but then I thought, we live in Manchester, NH. No one is that bright or weird in Manchester, NH. (we were planning our escape). It went like this:

Marley: Mom, Hartluv wants to go to the park.
Me: Wha?
Marley: Hartluv.wants.to.go.to.the.park.
Me: Harley?
Marley: (rolls eyes) Heart. Love.
Me: Is that a person?
Marley: She is my friend.
Me: From school?
Marley: (sighs) No. She lives with us. She’s right here.
Me: (blank face)

Okay. I handled it well from there on. I played a long with Hartluv. I let her swing on the swings; I made a cake for her birthday, ½ birthday, sad day, etc… Hartluv told Marley she was a superhero, so Marley would introduce herself as Marley Doubleday, MD, Superhero. (she wanted to be a doctor, it was a compromise). Hartluv was a constant for about 2 years. Marley actually had 101 imaginary friends, including PianoTalk, Treeko (her stuffed animal but very prominent) . Then, one day I was upset/bad day/tired/stressed—typical mom stuff—and I didn’t set a place for Hartluv at dinner. Marley was upset and I couldn’t take it..

“Hartluv is NOT REAL!”

Quiet. Even Emily, the older sister who always made fun of Hartluv stopped. Marley looked at me and started to cry. Great. I suck.
I tried to make it up to her, but Marley didn’t talk about Hartluv very much anymore, I know she was still around because I would hear Marley playing with her, but she didn’t mention her. When Marley was 7, I asked her about Hartluv. “She’s gone.” Then walked away. I asked her about Hartluv when she was 13 and she rolled her eyes.
I killed Hartluv.

I don’t think I had an imaginary friend. I kinda hate myself for that. Was I not imaginative enough? Did I have one and forget? I feel like I missed out. Matthew Dicks takes this concept and molds it in a being, Budo, who is an imaginary friend to Max, who is autistic. Budo helps Max live on the outside, when all Max wants is to live inside. He helps him choose what color shirt to wear, what kind of soup to eat; he helps him fall asleep at night. Budo is as real as Max, he was imagined smart, he looks human, and he can walk through doors and windows because Max wants him to. Some imaginary friends that Budo meets are not so human. Wooly is a paper doll, Teeny is a fairy, Klute is a bobblehead. Spoon is a spoon. But they are real to their imaginers and to each other and they die. They are not needed anymore and they begin to fade away and then they die. I freakin’ cried buckets each time one was lost. I think that everyone should have an imaginary friend forever so they can live and help you and guard you and tell you what to wear. I want my own Hartluv.

I want my own Budo, Klute, Oswald, Graham, Teeny, Spoon, Summer, Puppy. I want Blu.

I want them to be remembered always, to love ‘em and hold ‘em and squeeze and never stop.

I love this story. I love the way it speaks, the way it holds you, the beauty of the friendships.

I hope that Harluv forgives me.
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,242 reviews2,257 followers
May 24, 2015
Here is what I know:

My Name is Budo.

I have been alive for five years.

Five years is very long 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.

So begins one of the most unusual and frustrating books I have ever read, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green.

Many kids have imaginary friends, who last for varying periods of time, disappearing somewhere along the way as their creators grow up. What if they are not imaginary, but inhabit a strange twilight world where they can be seen only by one another, and the children who created them? The author builds his tale on this intriguing premise, and creates a fantasy world which is unique.

In Budo's world, imaginary friends are built the way their creators imagined them to be: Budo is luckier than most, because he is of normal size, can talk, and can pass through closed doors and windows (many imaginary friends are mute, some are tiny and one is even shaped like a spoon). Max, an autistic child, cannot interact properly with the world. All his suppressed creativity has gone into the production of Budo, and it is Budo who sustains him through difficult situations. And it is through Budo's eyes we come to know the world of Max.

So far, so good. But having built this beautiful fantasy world, Matthew Green lets us down with an almighty thud by turning it into the story of a kidnapping and rescue.

In my opinion, this was a wasted opportunity. Using the medium imaginary friends, the author could have told a more significant story, especially about the claustrophobic world of an autistic child. But instead, what we get is a suspense tale. It is well told (though the suspense factor could work better in the case of young adults than mature readers-to me, it was very clear how it was going to end), and the "child's eye view" narration is easy to read and fast-moving (In this sense, there is a similarity to Room, but I felt that that novel explored deeper issues). Max's rapid growth to self-sufficiency when faced with a real crisis is attractive, and Budo's prompting him at each and every step underlining his status as Max's alter-ego is well done, but the novel quickly loses whatever depth it had towards the end. And the ending, I felt, was extremely trite.

Still, an enjoyable read if you are not having any great expectations.
Profile Image for Callie.
513 reviews43 followers
May 22, 2012
Started yesterday, and I couldn't put it down!

I loved every moment I spent with Budo and his friend, Max, and I just can't recommend this highly enough, especially for people who liked A Curious Case of the Dog in the Nighttime, or Room. I think I actually liked this a little better than both of those!

There were some very tender moments, some very sad moments, some very funny moments... I went through way more kleenax than I was anticipating!

I can't wait to start lending this out to people!
Profile Image for Michelle.
1,355 reviews123 followers
April 1, 2020
Anything that gives an imaginary friend some airplay I am right behind it. I had two imaginary friends as a child and they were the bain of my young life, getting into bed every night was a hassle, they took up all the space in the bed and my parents wouldn't let me stay up past my bed time. Those years were tough.

This book is the memoir of Budo, his imaginer is Max and Max is the bravest boy in the world who dances with the devil in the pale moonlight. This is Budo's story so I shan't tell you anymore. When you're needing a break from your own reality, this is the memoir to read.

Ultimately this was a five star book for me but I want to knock it down a star as it has confirmed what i always thought, i killed my imaginary friends. I am the murderer of my own imagination.

No no, it's a five, five shining stars and I promise to be more aware when entering elevators, I may have lost my way for a period of time but ultimately I believe.
Profile Image for Bonnie Shores.
Author 1 book369 followers
August 17, 2017
I'm sorry to say that I didn't love this book like I thought I would. Yes, the title is Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend but I thought it would be told from the POV of Max, the little boy, not Budo, the imaginary friend. From Budo's perspective, the story is told, not shown. And, tbh, it came across (to me) as a little preachy at times. It was like Budo was this all-knowing, all-wise "person" who was imparting his wisdom to us imbeciles.

I really loved 600 Hours of Edward and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, both of which had MCs with autism (Asperger’s syndrome) and obsessive-compulsive disorder and were told from their POV. I found those characters utterly fascinating. But because we didn't see Max's world through his eyes, I didn't see the point of this book.

Also, in a couple of instances, I felt like the author had some unresolved personal issues that he addressed in a passive-aggressive manner through Budo. Or maybe that's just me. Either way...

Profile Image for Joanne-in-Canada.
381 reviews11 followers
May 3, 2012
Flipping ahead, like cholesterol, can be bad or good.

Bad flipping ahead means I'm losing interest and either looking for a reason to keep reading, or skimming through the rest of the plot before I stop reading.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend was subjected to good flipping ahead. Part way through, I simultaneously couldn't stand the suspense and didn't want to rush this wonderful journey with Max and his imaginary friend Budo, so I flipped ahead a little, then came back to relish the details.

I was a little nervous about Matthew Dicks' third book. I'd loved his first, Something Missing, for its bizarre premise, quirky protagonist, and the unravelling of a precarious existence. His second book, Unexpectedly, Milo, seemed a variation on a riff, but not as engaging and too repetitive.

Dicks has proven his versatility by writing his third novel from the point of view of a figment of a 9-year-old boy's imagination, who is nevertheless complex and "human". What does carry over from Dicks' previous writing is a compelling, structured world--that of imaginary friends and their creators--that evolves unpredictably with time.

Rarely do I read a book that I know so little about. Having heard about the premise at Dicks' session at the 2011 BOTNS retreat, I was eagerly awaiting this book's publication (August 2012 in North America), and found an advance readers' copy at The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, NY, on the way to Booktopia 2012 (VT). Each plot point was a surprise, and I recommend avoiding reviews before reading this book.

And read it you must!
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,462 reviews8,566 followers
December 24, 2012
Have you ever watched a movie where you knew how it was going to end right from the beginning, but you still cried when the ending came anyway? That's what happened to me with Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend.

Budo is Max's imaginary friend. He looks more human than most imaginary friends, can pass through doors and windows, and he loves Max. The bad part is that if Max stops believing in him, Budo will disappear. Max's life moves as smoothly as it can for a child with a mental disability until one of his teachers does something that endangers his life. Now it's up to Budo to rescue him, even if the costs him his own existence.

The best part of Matthew Dicks' third novel was its voice. The writing style stayed fresh and consistent; it never felt fake or gimmicky. Dicks kept Budo in character and impressed me tremendously with the execution of this unique story.

What this book constantly made me think of was this quote from My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult: Kids think with their brains cracked wide open; becoming an adult, I've decided, is only a slow sewing shut. Children keep their minds wide open, and it's adults who force themselves into corners because they have to deal with the harshness of reality. Just an interesting thought that Dicks incorporated into the book.

Overall, I highly recommend Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend to those searching for a different story with a touch of magical realism. It'll make you question what you think about imaginary friends - perhaps I should get one of my own...

*review cross-posted on my blog, the quiet voice.
Profile Image for Myrna.
708 reviews
July 7, 2019
Content… 4 stars!
Reading mood during and after… 5+ stars!


Interesting read from the point of view of an (suspected) autistic boy’s imaginary friend, Budo. This book is full of imagination with great descriptions of the imaginary friends. Budo, is a great character you might end up loving like I did and may take you back to your own childhood. It may start slow for some but it gets better quickly once the twist is revealed. Plus, the ending was worth the read.

Matthew Dicks did a good job of writing this book in an emotional, captivating, charming, and suspenseful way. The author is a teacher and is well versed in school structure/function and knowledge of autism. Can’t wait to read more for him.

Good read for teachers, teachers in training or anybody that want to read a great book. Highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Mark Rice.
Author 7 books115 followers
March 25, 2012
On every level, this book is worthy of five stars. The story is original, touching and memorable. Budo (the narrator and main character) is a captivating mixture of innocence, childlike wisdom, love, wonder and fear. Matthew Green's characters are so vivid that they remain with the reader after the book is finished. Right from the opening page, the novel engaged my full attention, stirring up emotions that grew stronger as the story progressed. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is a masterclass in storytelling.

Budo is the imaginary friend of a nine-year-old boy named Max. Though not explicitly stated, it is implied that Max suffers from some type of autistic-spectrum disorder: we are told that he is 'different'; Max's mother and father argue over whether or not to raise him as 'normal'; Max does not like to be touched; when faced with too many stimuli or choices, he becomes 'stuck', retreating into his inner universe and becoming unreachable for a period; at school, he is bullied because of his unorthodox way of relating to the world. Budo lives in constant fear of disappearing. Imaginary friends, you see, exist only as long as their imaginer believes in them. Having existed for five years, Budo is the oldest imaginary friend he knows. When Max is abducted from school, Budo witnesses the crime and recognises the abductor. He is unable to tell anyone, though, as Max is the only human who can see or hear him. Setting out on a quest to save Max, Budo enlists the help of other imaginary friends. These strange creatures come in an intoxicating array of forms, as imagined by their human creators. Budo's desire to save his friend is driven by two forces: (1) his transcendent love for Max; (2) his fear that Max might stop believing in him, which would lead to his vanishing into nonexistence. As Budo and friends face seemingly insurmountable obstacles on their journey, Green builds tension and wonder in equal quantitities.

In addition to posing existential questions in a new way, the story is heart-wrenchingly poignant. The narrative is dotted with Budo's incisive observations of human nature. These truths are sometimes sad, often funny, always clever. They stem from an imaginary being viewing human behaviour with objectivity and the infallible logic of a child. As narrators go, Budo is perfect: endearing, lovable, logical, loyal, brave, observant and full of initiative.

If you have a heart, this book will move you to tears. If you open your mind, Green's characters will step into it and fill you with wonder.

A life-changing story. A paradigm shift. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is more than a novel: it's an echo chamber of profound emotions, thoughts and ideas. And perhaps most of all, it's a reminder of the sacred nature of friendship.

Buy it. Read it. Be changed for the better.
Profile Image for Jonas.
181 reviews13 followers
April 3, 2022
Wow! How did it take so long to read this book!?! Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend was our town's April Book Club selection. I am so very grateful that it was. There is SO much I love about this book. It has all the feelings one would hope to experience while reading. I had no idea what to expect going in, and the many things that did happen were NOT expected at all.

The author is a teacher (as am I) and his descriptions of school life are authentic. His description of Max is spot on. He does an amazing job presenting Max as a person, not a diagnosis. He explains how Max lives and feels more comfortable "inside his head". We get an emotional look at what it would be like to be the parent of a child on the Autism spectrum. We see the best in teachers that try to connect with Max and also teachers who are only going through the motions. This book also highlights how students are often targeted or bullied for being different.

I loved the array of characters: Max's teacher and parents, the gas station attendants, and of course the great variety of imaginary friends. The life, existence, and disappearance of imaginary friends was so very believable. Their story is so much more than simply talking/playing with the child that imagined them. You can read the book at face value or you can view the journey Max's imaginary friend, Budo, goes through as an allegory or metaphorical. Either way it was an engaging read.

Max's story is linked with Budo's story. I was caught up in both. I love when books I read have an unexpected connection. There is a Woolly in The Lincoln Highway and a Wooly in Imaginary Friend. Both are very different, but both so very memorable. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend made me laugh and cry. It moved and inspired me. It had me at the edge of my seat. I couldn't put it down as we raced to the end. It was an amazing reading experience.

Profile Image for Mia Searles (The Muses Circle).
315 reviews51 followers
August 23, 2012
This review and more can be viewed on my blog at: The Muses Circle

"I wish there was a Heaven. If I knew there was a Heaven for me, then I would save Max for sure. I wouldn't be afraid because there would be a place to go after this place. Another place. But I don't think there is a Heaven, and I definitely don't think there is a Heaven for imaginary friends. Heaven is only supposed to be for people who God made, and God didn't make me. Max made me."

I normally don't start my reviews with a quote, but there are so many great, thought provoking lines like this in which Budo delivers throughout Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, that I just had to share one of my favorites. And some people call this book, or the writing of this book, insipid and facile? Yeah, I'll get to that later.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks is quite an ambitious novel. My initial first thought? How the author was going to differentiate between "imaginary friends" and "ghosts". After all, on the surface they do have some similarities...or one might think. But I soon discovered I had nothing to fear. In fact, the difference between ghosts and imaginary friends does get addressed in the book by Budo himself. He says, "Ghosts were alive once. Imaginary friends are never alive in the real world."

Dicks did a great job building the world and mythology of "imaginary friends." Every child has a different way of coping with the uncertainties of life, whether it be parents that argue on a daily basis, a life threatening illness, starting school and the social anxieties that comes with it, etc. Perhaps the easiest way to conquer these fears is to share the burden with someone and what better way to do that then to create an imaginary friend. In Matthew Dicks' world, these "friends" can come in many different shapes and sizes and can disappear as quickly as they are imagined. That is why Budo is so very special. Not only does he look like a real human but he is over 5 years old which is unheard of in the world of imaginary friends. This is all thanks to Max, the 8 year old boy who created him.

As the synopsis states above, Max is different then many of the children he goes to school with. While it is never stated what Max's diagnosis is, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that he has a form of autism or Aspergers Syndrome. While this causes turmoil in the lives of his parents, teachers, and even some of his classmates, Budo is the only one who seems to accept and understand Max for who he is. In fact, I originally thought that the book's agenda was to find out what's "wrong"with Max. I couldn't have been more wrong. This is Budo's story and it is told in his perspective. And while he loves Max and knows deep down that Max being "different" is the reason he has been alive for so long, he still fears the day when Max will stop believing in him. Because when that happens, Budo will start to fade away like so many imaginary friends have done before him.

The whole concept of a child's imagination reminds me of the Romantic poets, most specifically William Wordsworth. He believed that children were the closest to God because the depths of their imagination and innocence hadn't been tarnished by the realities of adulthood. But the older a child gets, the more responsibility is placed on his/her shoulders, and the child is forced to "grow up." By the time a child reaches adulthood, he/she has forgotten about imaginary friends, instead replaced with work, paying bills, and trying to fit into society's standards. We see the beginning stages of this theory in Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. The reason many of the imaginary friends Budo knows disappear before him is because the children that created them are growing up, therefore, they are no longer needed.While Max is very intelligent, he also is introverted and struggles with social skills. This is why Budo is needed, to help Max with fending off bullies like Tommy Swinden, or to stand guard in the bathroom while Max makes a "bonus poop" as Budo likes to call them. Yes, I did say "bonus poop". Did I forget to mention this book is also hilarious??

Now to clear up some things. First and foremost, some people have been confused as to the genre and reading level this book should fall under. Some reviewers have given Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend a 2 star rating because they felt it "struggles to find an audience". This is an ADULT novel that just so happens to have a 5 year old imaginary friend as a narrator. I would go so far as to say that mature young adults would enjoy this novel as well. I'm not sure why people automatically assume that if a child is the narrator or if the language is simple then it is considered a young adult novel.

Speaking of "simple", let's talk about the writing style of this book. Some have complained that the story and writing is "babyish", "insipid", and "facile". Umm...did they miss the fact that the narrator is a 6 year old imaginary friend that was created by an 8 year old boy??? What do they expect, Budo to start talking in flowery Shakespearean prose??? If anything, I think Matthew Dicks did an amazing job creating Budo's voice and making it realistic. And I am confused as to how someone could think the story is shallow or that the author ignores the complexities of the issues. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I wonder if they realize what the "issues" of the story actually are. I think people are going into this book thinking it is going to be all about Max and his "condition" and how the people around him deal with it or try to "fix" him. While Max is vital to the story, it is NOT HIS STORY. Budo is the narrator and this is about his journey as an imaginary friend, his fears as to where "friends" like him go when they fade away.

I will say I agree that some of what Budo says is repetitive and somewhere in the middle, the story does lose a little steam. But as you can see by my rating, it didn't bother me enough to take away a whole star. The ending makes up for the little dry spell and somehow the repetitiveness fits, probably because it is never far from my mind that Budo was thought up by an 8 year old boy with limited social skills. But some of the things Budo ponders are questions that sometimes kids ask that we as adults don't have the patience to answer. It reminds me that sometimes the most honest answers come from small children because their responses aren't clouded with the complexities we are used to as grown-ups.

The last thing I want to point out is my love for Oswald, the only imaginary friend that Budo fears. Without spoiling anything, Budo must find the courage to go to Oswald in order to help Max. The reason I am bringing Oswald up is because I couldn't help but think of the movie Ghost starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg. Remember when Patrick Swayze sees the ghost on the train that can actually touch and move things? Well that ghost reminds me of Oswald, and Budo in that moment reminds me of Patrick Swayze. Pretty interesting parallel and I have to wonder if the author was or is aware of it!

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is a rare breed of novel that can affect a person on so many different levels. Read it if you want to laugh. Read it if you want to be moved to tears. Read it if you want something to think about long after the last page has been read. Just remember to go into this story with an open mind, remember that this is Budo's story, not Max's, and this is not a doctor's manual on autism or Aspergers. This is a great book for teachers that will prompt many discussions with your students. This is a great book if you are a parent with small children or if you vaguely remember your very own imaginary friend. Whatever the case may be, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is a book with heart, and Budo is one character that I will never forget. Well done, Matthew Dicks.

Mia @The Muses Circle
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,341 reviews701 followers
September 24, 2012
I was intrigued by this book because my son had an imaginary friend who was very real to him. His "friend" then had cousins and they lived in his closet. Anyway, I was drawn to the title. I really liked the story and Matthew Green's ideas about imaginary friends. I agree with some of his ideas of what they look like, how they begin and how they end. It was a fun and very inventive story. An added twist to this story line is the the "human" of the imaginary friend has learning and behavioral issues. HIs ideas of all the imaginary friends in his book rang true to our situation. It was fun to read.
Profile Image for Little Yams.
124 reviews8 followers
July 6, 2014

“Maybe we are all somebody's devil”

There are no words to describe how beautiful this book is. I've written down so many quotes from the story, it fills up 10 pages in my notebook. And I have small hand writing.

“You have to be the bravest person in the world to go out every day, being yourself when no one likes who you are.”

After finishing this book I couldn't stop crying for 15 minutes, no joke. It wasn't the hysterical kind of cry. It was the type of cry were it's a steady stream of tears, just continuously flowing down your face, with no way to stop it.

I can honestly say, this book this probably the book that has impacted my life the most. I didn't want this to end. But, everything must eventually come to an end.

"Now I think these are the three worst things in the world:
1. Waiting
2. Not Knowing
3. Not existing”

This novel is told in the POV of an imaginary friend. His name is Budo and his human friend is Max. Max is different, he doesn't have many friends, he hates it when people touch him, he has strange peeves, like he can only where seven articles of clothing at once, he gets stuck sometimes, and he in incredibly smart.

At school he has a couple of different teachers. Mrs Gosk, which Max and Budo both love, and Mrs. Patterson, a teacher who Budo doesn't trust and Max feels uncomfortable around.

“There are two types of teachers in the world: there are those who play school and teachers that teach school”

There's also a bully in the story, who ends up sort of helping Max out in the end (indirectly).

Anyway, at home his mother keeps trying to change him, his father keep trying to pretend nothing is wrong. But they truly do love each other, they just don't know how to get Max involved in any family activities.

"Max's father likes to tell people that he and Max play catch every night."
"But he and Max don't really play catch. Max's dad throws the ball to Max, and Max let's it hit the ground and roll, and when it stops moving, he picks it up and tries to throw it back."
"But even if Max 'steps into it' or 'gives it his all' (I don't know what either of those things mean, and I don't think Max does either), the ball never reaches his dad. If Max;s dad wants the ball to reach him, why doesn't he just stand closer?"

The last bit really got to me. Actually the whole book really got to me.

Budo is probably the oldest living imaginary friend ever. After a period of time imaginary friends fade away, sometimes because their human friends grew up and stopped need someone to reply on, or simply because they forget about them. But budo has lived for six years. That's considered ancient.

Budo was imagined really smart, he understands things even better than Max can sometimes.
He helps Max whenever he needs help and Max listens to Budo. They're best friends.

"Do you want the blue popsicle or the yellow popsicle?
Max just freezes, freezes like a popsicle.
There are just too many things for Max to think about when choosing"

There are other imaginary friends that play a huge part in the story. And they are equally amazing. Budo is extremely intuitive but explains things in such a simple way, it's beautiful. I love it.

I exactly tell you anymore without spoilers, but I can tell you that you won't regret reading this book. Even if you end up hating it, you will learn something. I can also tell you to prepare to cry your heart out.

"I step through the door anyway, knowing that the hard thing and the right thing are usually the same thing”

It's okay, let it go. Don't hold back the tears


-unedited- (i will later)
Profile Image for Autumn.
338 reviews1 follower
July 2, 2012
This book is one of the biggest surprises for me of the year. I was blown away by how emotional and heart-wrenching this book was at times. That might be because of what an awesome job the narrator, Matthew Brown, did with the audiobook. The story was absolutely fantastic, but Mr. Brown brought Budo to life just as surely as Max Delaney did.

In Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend when a child creates an imaginary friend they are real. Only, no one but the child that created him (and other imaginary friends) can hear or see him. The imaginary friends spend their lives existing at the whim of the child until that child no longer needs it, then it will cease to exist.

Max Delaney needs Budo because he's got problems. Those problems are never specified, but adults might recognize it as being something like autism. Max and Budo have enough troubles to deal with until something completely unexpected and unbelievable happens. Max and Budo will have to rely on each other like never before to make it though.

I highly recommend this book and especially the audiobook to everybody. It's seriously an amazing story and one you won't soon forget. It'll be a book club hit I'm sure!
Profile Image for Nikki.
1,048 reviews17 followers
January 18, 2013
I'd read/heard so many people rave about this book and the synopsis sounded pretty interesting too, so I couldn't not read it. However, I really didn't like it. I can't put my finger on what it is exactly, but I just didn't get sucked into the story at all. I didn't feel involved with any of the characters, I didn't like the writing style (it reminded me a lot of Room, a book I started but didn't finish because of exactly this reason) and the plot was borderline ridiculous. Not to mention all the talk of death and disappearing and life being meaningless was incredibly depressing. Admitted, this changed at the very end, but that didn't take away from the fact that the overwhelming majority of the book is just plain bleak. This is okay if we're talking about, say, Dickens, but most other authors can't pull this off. Also, I felt like the author was trying to subtly weave wisdom and life lessons into the story, but it was put on so thick, it was incredibly annoying and sometimes felt almost like an insult to my intelligence.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
November 30, 2012
Budo is an imaginary friend. The boy who imagined him, eight-year-old Max Delaney, had a vivid imagination, so Budo looks much more real than most imaginary friends. He can pass through doors, and travel anywhere he wants to go, but he doesn't ever sleep, and he can't pick things up, because Max didn't imagine Budo doing those things.

"I live in a strange place in the world," Budo says. "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...except they can't see me."

Max has Asperger's Syndrome, and while his mother wants to send him to therapists and doctors to help him get better, his father believes Max is just a late bloomer who will change when he's ready, as long as he's treated like every other child. Max likes his routine, he likes his toys, he loves his teacher, Mrs. Gosk, and storytime, and he hates change. Change makes him "stuck."

Budo wants to protect Max as best as any imaginary friend can; he helps Max with his schoolwork and tries to help him navigate the bullies at school who want to hurt Max, like fifth-grader Tommy Swinden. More than anything, Budo wants Max to always need and believe in him, because Budo has seen what happens to other imaginary friends when their real friends stop believing in them—they stop existing.

When Mrs. Patterson, the woman (not a teacher) who sometimes helps Max at the Learning Center at school, kidnaps Max because she believes she could do a better job raising him, Budo doesn't know how to help. How can he save Max when he can't be heard by humans, or move things? He enlists the help of other imaginary friends to try and save Max, but he realizes that in order to save Max he might have to risk his own existence.

So many times reading this book, I couldn't believe Matthew Dicks' creativity. This is a book narrated entirely by a child's imaginary friend. The world that Dicks has created is so unique and well-developed, and while I didn't have an imaginary friend growing up, I almost would like one know if he could be like Budo. While he understands the world around him a little better than Max does, he still has a somewhat limited base of knowledge. His narrative voice is both wise and child-like, and it made the book so tremendously enjoyable and poignant.

I was a little skeptical when I heard about the concept of this book, but I was hooked from the very first page. These characters are wonderful ones you'll want to take into your heart, and although you probably will have an idea of how the story will resolve, the way it unfolds is just wonderful. This is a great book even if you're not a kid at heart, but if you are, I hope you love it as much as I did.
7 reviews1 follower
May 18, 2012
I had several imaginary friends, one was a girl named Elizabeth, one was a girl named Jessica, one was a dog named Bonzo. Bonzo was the best. I miss Bonzo. Jessica was a bit mean, Elizabeth a bit pasty. Sorry, Elizabeth, you did stick around for quite a while, and I don't want you to feel unappreciated. But you were a little bit pasty, in hindsight. Bonzo, on the other hand, was solid and loyal and... he persisted.
I don't know how long these friends stuck around for, but the times spent with them are still vivid and lasting memories.
Although I didn't love this book, didn't love the plot and detest frightful nightmarish ideas, I did find value in the reconnection to childhood imagination and am happy to have been reuinited with Elizabeth, Jessica, and especially Bonzo.
Profile Image for Caleb Wilson.
Author 7 books22 followers
June 21, 2012
A wonderful book. Pitch-perfect narrative voice. It proved impossible for me to set it down once I reached the halfway mark. The ending made me perform an imaginary fist pump of triumph.
Profile Image for Lisa Rostocki.
33 reviews3 followers
June 27, 2012
This book is about an boy who has autism and his imaginary friend. In the beginning of the book the author prefices it by saying that Budo the imaginary friend knows much more than Max and has more intelligence. I would have thought that the author took that literary license to write in a more adult fashion. I actually looked up the book on the internet to see if it was meant for children to read.The book was written in a childish tone and flowed terribly in the beginning. I almost didn't continue reading it.

Halfway through the pace it picked up a little. The narrative voice of a childlike imaginary friend however did get irritating. At times I almost felt as though I was reading a childs book report who was just trying to fill some pages to get a good grade. As other readers have mentioned before the pooping references were really getting old and tired.

Most readers will like the preface of the book but I am not sure if a few will put it down because of the narrative tone that the author has chosen to use.

It was ok. Nothing terrible but nothing great either. An easy read, unfortunately sometimes too easy.
Profile Image for Dianne.
559 reviews910 followers
August 10, 2014
Budo is the narrator of this book. He is the imaginary friend of Max, a eight year old autistic boy who "imagined" Budo 5 years earlier. Budo watches over Max but being imaginary, cannot make his presence felt in the real world. This becomes a problem when Max is in real danger and Budo must find a way to help his friend.

Dicks creates a well-imagined (pardon the pun) world for imaginary friends, who come in all forms and shapes and degrees of complexity. Very poignant and thoughtful, I can't imagine anyone not liking this book. It was also very suspenseful - I couldn't put it down until I found out what happened to Max and Budo.
Profile Image for Charbel.
149 reviews33 followers
January 26, 2016
The plot:
Budo is Max's imaginary friend. Max has Aspergers, or at leat some mild form of autism; and no one really understands him as well as Budo. Budo is also special because, as far as imaginary friends go, Budo looks pretty human, not to mention that he's also been alive for 6 years, which among his own kind is quite extraordinary. And even though Budo has been around for a long time, Max needs him now more than ever.
Despite the fact that the plot is predictable, the premise (that of an imaginary friend in such a serious predicament) is original enough to still make this a page turner.

The writing:
The writing is simple, and at times childish; and that is exactly what makes it brilliant. The story is told through the eyes of a small boy's imaginary friend after all. And despite the style's simplicity, it is nonetheless engaging.

The best aspects of the novel:
The emotional content of the novel is what makes it such a special read. I didn't cry (at least not on the outside), but I was still so moved that by the last page I was nothing more than a giant sentimental blob.
The second best aspect of the novel is the abundance of clever details that describe the interactions of imaginary friends with the real world. Also the personalities and traits of the different imaginary friends were so vibrant that you can't help but appreciate the effort Dicks has put into creating this world.

All the different elements of the novel work together so well that the outcome is a beautiful and touching story of friendship and courage. I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Karen.
925 reviews47 followers
June 2, 2023
Have you ever watched a movie where you knew how it was going to end right from the beginning, but you still cried when the ending came anyway? That's what happened to me with Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend.

Budo is Max's imaginary friend. He looks more human than most imaginary friends, can pass through doors and windows, and he loves Max.

The bad part is that if Max stops believing in him, Budo will disappear.

But, as a reader, we don’t need to let him go….yet.

For those who love magical realism, this is a joyful, sad, loving reading experience.

There is a harshness of reality, but, at the same time a lovely escapism that reminds us why child play is good for us…even as adults.

There are flaws – not perfect moments. But, if you can give yourself the opportunity to move through them, I think you will find the experience of getting through this book worthwhile.
53 reviews
January 14, 2016
"Quiza todos somos el demonio de alguien"

Que bonito que el primer libro que leo en este año haya sido tan bueno.
El final es muy predecible, desde que empece a leer el libro supe que iba a terminar así, lo supuse, pero igual cuando llegue a los últimos capítulos donde efectivamente estaba pasando lo que creía, me dolió.
Los personajes son maravillosos y bien pensados, Max, un niño totalmente diferente y tan inteligente, yo me moría de ganas de entrar en el libro y abrazarlo con todas mis fuerzas, porque se me hacia tan tierno. Budo, un amigo que siempre estará a tu lado sin importar que pase.
¿Qué pasa cuando sin darte cuenta, estas dependiendo de alguien más, cuando deberías creer en ti mismo antes que en los demás?
Profile Image for Javier.
Author 36 books9,267 followers
June 24, 2012
En realidad le doy un 3,5. Es verdad que la voz del niño y cómo explica el universo "Imaginario" está muy bien, pero después se hace muy repetitivo y, en mi opinión, un fallo grave es que TODOS los amigos imaginarios excepto el prota hablan de la misma manera. Da igual si es un anciano o un niño-cuchara, su voz es la misma y saben prácticamente las mismas cosas... Se lee rápido porque son frases cortas. Y también porque mantiene la curiosidad de saber cómo saldrán del tinglado.
Profile Image for Charly Flores.
151 reviews5 followers
February 25, 2017
Muy original, entretenido e impresionante.
Es una historia muy tierna. Esta llena de sorpresas y es tan sencilla que se pasa rápido el tiempo leyendo :)
Profile Image for Patve.
420 reviews69 followers
January 11, 2020
Bien....sobre todo por el giro de la historia.
No me gustó mucho el final, creo que le faltó completar más el perfil de la antagonista.
Profile Image for Kwoomac.
830 reviews34 followers
August 30, 2016
This book was nothing like author Matthew Dicks' previous novels. Ok, maybe not completely true. The protagonist is not a quirky adult with OCD, but an eight-year-old boy with autistic features. Actually, he's not the main protag, his imaginary friend is.

This is a truly poignant tale told through the eyes of Budo, the imaginary friend of Max Delaney. According to Budo, imaginary friends are real. It was a fun concept. Budo can go places without Max, and often wanders off if he's bored. He has friendships with other imaginary friends. These friendships were a little bit heart breaking because imaginary friends disappear when their real-life counterpart stops believing or no longer needs them (or dies).

The book addresses plenty of issues, death definitely being one of them. Autism is another. Max attends a regular school, mainstreamed but leaving the class for special services. He's bullied by a fifth grader. Budo makes an interesting argument for how he thinks Max should be treated. He talks about all of the adults trying to get Max to interact with his peers more. Budo wonders why, since when Max is left alone to play with his Legos or read history books, he's perfectly happy. What he doesn't enjoy is the forced relationships with others which often send Max into a panic state. Budo thinks adults do this to make themselves happy, not really caring what makes Max happy. Wow, this floored me as I have been one of those adults trying to get kids on the spectrum to interact more with their peers.

I think this book made me feel like I knew Dicks a little better, as he is an elementary school teacher and he spends a lot of time talking about what makes a good teacher. Hint: you have to actually like kids!

The story is about facing one's fears. Can Max deal with the many things that paralyze him on a daily basis to get himself out of a dangerous situation?

So a great read but completely different from the author's other books.
Profile Image for Melissa Storm.
Author 139 books3,779 followers
December 31, 2013
This book was perfect. Have you ever read something that ended so beautifully, incorporating even the most minor plot points in its resolution, that you couldn't help but cry as you reached the final page? It's a rare experience, but an amazing one. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend has earned its place among my favorites, along with a 5-star rating from this stingy reviewer.

Written in the simple and repetitive voice of Budo, the imaginary friend of an 8-year-old with Asberger's, this novel sucks you in immediately. You grow to care about Budo and his friend Max in a way that extends beyond a basic reading experience. The mythology the author has created for Imaginary Friends is fascinating and well thought out, and his understanding of little boys like Max is also incredible. Meanwhile, Budo's biggest fear is that he will fade away into nothingness like all imaginary friends eventually do when their people grow up and stop believing in them.

Although the ending is one you see coming right from the very beginning, this prescience somehow only serves to make it that much more powerful. I can't recommend this book enough. Prepare to cry your eyes out, especially if you are a parent. It's hard not to identify with this special "imaginary" friend and the love he has for the boy who created him.
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