This was the best book that I have read all summer – I truly loved Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. The story is narrated by Budo, the five-year-old imaginary friend of Max Delaney, a nine-year-old boy with traits that would suggest Asperger’s. Budo is clever (perhaps the smartest imaginary friend ever, according to his estimation) and compassionate; dedicated to Max during the day and free to roam the world at night (he doesn’t need to sleep), Budo has wisdom and insight that extends beyond his years.
Budo’s voice is refreshing and real (despite his imaginary status), and he helps Max to navigate the social situations and classroom challenges that he faces on a daily basis (he even helps him to decide which color shirt to wear when Max gets “stuck”). Budo is especially dedicated to Max because he fears that if Max ever stops needing him, he will disappear – a fate that he has seen all too often as imaginary friends slowly fade when they are no longer wanted.
While Budo is used to dealing with the daily routine, he is not sure what to do when Max confesses that he has a secret with Mrs. Patterson, his para-professional. Max has never held anything back from Budo, so it scares Budo to think that this could be his end. After spying on Max, however, he comes to fear for his imaginer’s safety – he sees Max get into Mrs. Patterson’s car and hears snippets of a frightening conversation. When Max realizes that Budo has spied on him, he refuses to talk to Budo; the next day at school, though, when looking at the teacher parking lot, Max finally speaks and promises Budo that he will tell him everything if Budo stays put. Budo quickly realizes that he has been tricked, though, as he watches Max get into Mrs. Patterson’s car and drive away.
After waiting for hours, Budo realizes that his friend has disappeared and watches as teachers, policemen, and Max’s parents deal with the aftermath, realizing that Max is lost in a world that he does not fully understand. Budo knows what happened, yet is unable to communicate with anyone other than Max or other imaginary friends. Panic sets in, and Budo becomes determined to save Max, the bravest boy in the world, even if he is forced to face some of his greatest fears.
This story is incredibly touching with moments of humor and suspense sprinkled throughout. It is beautifully written, and the storyline is so original that it will keep you reading until the very end. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is a wonderful read from beginning to end, and readers will root for Budo and Max the entire time!