My 2013 reading year is off to an amazing start in January with this book that really captured my imagination.
Synopsis via Goodreads:
Budo is Max’s imaginary friend. But though only Max can see him, he is real. He and the other imaginary friends watch over their children until the day comes that the child stops imagining them. And then they’re gone. Budo has lasted a lot longer than most imaginary friends – four years – because Max needs him more. His parents argue about sending him to a special school. But Max is perfectly happy if everything is just kept the way it is, and nothing out of the ordinary happens. Unfortunately, something out of the ordinary is going to happen – and then he’ll need Budo more than ever…
I loved this book and its world of imaginary friends. That world is what makes this book sparkle and shine.
The realistic portrayal of a little boy who isn’t like the other kids his age (probably somewhere on the autism spectrum) is the strength of this book. The portrayal was respectful, but most of all real.
The plot (and the adventures that Max and Budo have (and bad things do happen in the book)) keep it compelling, and provide a way to show the characters. This would have been enough to carry the book on its own, but it doesn’t have to.
I’ve been debating what more to say about the book, but I think I’ll just leave it at that.
I will say that this book captured my imagination because in part due to my daughter’s incredible world of imaginary friends, which I wrote about earlier. As I mentioned there, her imaginary friends had friends that were not her friends. After reading this book, I will forever envision them as the imaginary friends of other children around us. (Her imaginary friends also had imaginary friends. And those had imaginary friends as well). I’m hoping all those imaginary friends are together now, somewhere.
Narrator: Matthew Brown did an excellent job with the narration. I tossed around whether I would have liked the narrator to sound more like a child (the book is told from the perspective of the imaginary friend of a third grader, who may be a little older than him, but not much). I decided that it wasn’t necessary.
Production: No issues. The audiobook features a wonderful interview with the author and one of the characters in the book, who is a real person.
Print vs. Audio? I loved the audio, but I think I would have loved it in print as well. Read whichever is more convenient, with a slight nod toward audio on this one.
Book Club Notes:
I read this book for book club after suggesting it to the group, so I was really hoping everyone would like it. Everyone that read it did enjoy it, I’m happy to say. One member had trouble suspending disbelief on the imaginary friend acting on their own, but most people had no trouble with that in regards to the book, although I’m probably the only one prepared to believe it in real life!
More importantly for book club, we had a good discussion, much of which revolved around the portrayal of Max and how he reacted to the world and the world reacted to him. Out of the six people that read the book, two are parents of a boy with issues not exactly like Max’s but with enough in common to add to their appreciation of his portrayal, and one teaches children like Max. They confirmed my opinion that the character is very well thought out.
I would absolutely recommend this book for book club reading and discussion.