Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green (audio book)

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Memoirs Of An Imaginary Friend Note: Author is known as Matthew Dicks in the US

Five words from the blurb: boy, danger, loyalty, imagination, friend

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend has the most original premise I’ve come across this year. The book is narrated by Budo, an imaginary friend who explains what life is like for those who only exist because a human has thought of them. Most live brief lives with young children, but Budo is special. Budo was imagined by Max, an 8-year-old boy with autism. Because Max has autism his attention to detail is excellent and so Budo is very life-like – unlike most other imaginary friends he even has ears! Budo can talk to Max and other imaginary friends, but cannot communicate with other people or touch anything in the real world. One day Max disappears and Budo is the only one who can save him. This leads to a thrilling, entertaining plot that is packed with emotion.

I am drawn towards books that deal with autism and this one did a fantastic job of showing the condition in a realistic, but positive light. Matthew Green’s career as a teacher has obviously helped him to understand children and this engaging story was filled with lovely little details about school life.

There were a few moments when I became frustrated by the plot – in the middle it became far fetched and I could see easier ways for Max to be rescued. But as this is a children’s book I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt – especially since the plot was so compelling.

There were also times when it got a bit too sentimental for me, but on the whole the messages were good and so I’ll forgive this too.

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

The audio book narration was wonderful! Matthew Brown was perfect, effortlessly managing all the different voices and capturing the heartache and emotion of the situation. I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed it as much if I’d read the print edition. The style reminded me of My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece and I’m sure that anyone who enjoyed Annabel Pitcher’s book will also like this one.

Because it addresses so many issues this book would make a fantastic classroom resource for older children. Themes of bullying, death, friendship and disability could all be discussed. The fact that most of the problems were faced by imaginary friends somehow made them less oppressive. But this isn’t just a book for children; as an adult I loved the original approach and was charmed by Budo’s insight in human behaviour.

This has become one of my favourite books with an autistic character. Recommended.


Many thanks to Bay State Reader’s Advisory for drawing this book to my attention!

The thoughts of other bloggers:

I listened to the entire 10 hour audiobook over the course of a single day because I just could not bear to put it down. Devourer of Books

….for all the suspense, the writing wasn’t quite as tight as Emma Donoghue’s in Room. Capricious Reader

That Matthew Dicks crafted his novel in such a way as to give an almost 3D view of the life of a child with emotional and social issues impressed me. The Literate Housewife


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  1. Lindsay says:

    I read this one recently, still need to write up a review, and I enjoyed it, especially the narrator! I think it would probably have been even better as an audio book for the reasons you’ve mentioned. I do think agree that the middle dragged a bit and for me the last hundred pages or so of the book were then much faster and very exciting. I wasn’t entirely sure it was a children’s book either, the way it has been presented in paperback. Either way it is a good read for adults and for children.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lindsay, It seems to be marketed as an adult book, but perhaps they have a children’s version too? I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be a good children’s book – or perhaps I’m forgetting some inappropriate scenes? Glad you enjoyed it too.

  2. stujallen says:

    Oh I ve heard him mention on books on the nightstand a few times ,now know why I ve not seen his books here ,thanks for mention his name different here as would like to try him ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, It is confusing when authors change their name or the title of the book. Glad you know the reason you couldn’t find it now!

  3. This sounds wonderful! I think the only book I’ve read with an autistic child was The Curious Case (me and half the world?). I’m always looking out for good audio recommendations – thanks for flagging!

    1. Jackie says:

      Alex, I loved The Curious Case, but it has been years since I read it. Might be time for a re-read as I read it before my increased knowledge of autism. It would be interesting to see how it holds up now I am more aware. This is a fantastic audio. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  4. Sandy says:

    At SIBA, this was one of the publisher picks…they were all RAVING about this book. And of course they didn’t have enough ARCs to go around, but I think I’d rather pursue the audio anyway.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I know you’ll LOVE this one. Audio is definitely the way to go. I look forward to your raving review soon!

  5. Sounds interesting, but since it’s a children’s book, I’m not sure it’s for me, having no particular interest in autism (just a bit above average, I’d say). What do you say? :-)

    I read an imaginary friend book a few years back, Sundays at Tiffany’s by James Patterson. I have the feeling this was written (in parts) by the imaginary friend. It has no literary qualities but I liked the idea behind it.

    I recently read The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke about a boy who possibly has a psychological illness that makes him think he has a demon friend. Very good. (In Dutch:

    So the general topic definitely has my interest!

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, I don’t think you have to have any interest in autism to enjoy this book. The nice thing is that autism isn’t really the main feature – the disability of the various imaginary friends ranks higher. It is just an engaging book about a little boy who goes missing. I think you’d like it.

      The Boy Who Could See Demons sounds good – especially in comparison to this one. I’ll see if my library has a copy. Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. Jenners says:

    This sounds like a brilliant premise. I love it. How cool wpild it be to have a picture book with imaginary friends that children drew? I wonder if there is something like that. I am reading a book dealing with autism now too. The Journal of best practices. I think I might’ve heard about it from you. Not sure. My memory isn’t always the best.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, I love the picture book idea! I don’t think my children have imaginary friends, but if they did I’d love to know how they imagine them – I know what I’ll be asking once they get home from school today!

      I haven’t read The Journal of Best Practices, so you didn’t get that idea from me. But I’m sure that if you enjoy it I’ll be putting it straight on my list!

  7. Laurie C says:

    I wouldn’t really call it a children’s book even though it’s about children, but I can see it being put on reading lists in high school, like Flowers for Algernon, maybe. (Although I don’t remember anything particularly inappropriate either.) It’s thought-provoking and moving at the same time.
    (Thanks for mentioning me, BTW! Your pingback went into my spam folder and I didn’t see it till today.)

    1. Jackie says:

      Laurie, Flowers for Algernon is one of my favourite books. I do think Imaginary Friend would appeal to a younger audience than Algernon, but could see both on the reading lists for older kids too. Thank you for introducing this book to me!


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