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THE BRAVEST LITTLE BOY IN THE WORLD
on 12 August 2012
The narrative simplicity of Memoir of an Imaginary Friend would lead one to believe that this is a children's book but the complexity of the issues being put forth definitely place it in the teen/adult category. Friendship, sacrifice, mortality and coping with "being different" are the primary themes that run through this novel.
Although never articulated, it is obvious from his impaired social interaction and communication skills and his restricted and repetitive behavior that 3rd grader Max Delaney is suffering from a high functioning form of autism. Max is intelligent and perceptive but not able to socially interact with the people around him so he has created Budo his imaginary friend, and the narrator of this story, to help him cope with the decisions of daily life.
Memoir is a magical tale filled with a bevy of heartwarming and extraordinarily conceived characters coupled with enough uncertainty and tension to keep the reader captivated. Since Budo is a product of Max's fertile imagination, the perceptions presented are simplistic and innocent yet possess intelligent commentary and observations on questions that confront most of us in our everyday lives. In their quest to help Max, Budo and other "imaginaries" like Oswald the Giant and Teeny the Fairy become the sort of honest, protective, understanding and unselfish friends that we all would like to have by our side as we navigate through the messy predicaments and choices life throws at us. (Perhaps for adults our imaginary friend is called Conscience and maybe like Peter Pan's Tinkerbell and Max's Budo it will disappear if we stop believing in it.)
On the whole, I enjoyed the story of Max, Budo and friends once I got used to the childlike presentation, but I must admit I could have done without the repetitive references to subjects like bonus poops. 3 1/2 stars