When you are at a medical centre on a daily basis, waiting to be seen for dressing changes, one of the first things you realise is that having something good to read is essential. The right book can take you away from the reality of pain, and help you endure the long waits.
Memoirs of an invisible friend by Matthew Green is one of those rare books. I was so captivated and lost in Green’s world that I didn’t realise that the nurse had finished dressing my wound!
Eight year old Max has an imaginary friend, Budo, who helps him to cope with everyday life – the noisy classroom, being bullied, his dislike of being touched or people being close to him, an inability to handle changes, not knowing how to stay safe. Budo has been with Max for five years and has seen lots of other imaginary friends fade away as their imaginer grows older, but Max relies on Budo to look out for him and Budo understands how much Max needs from him. Budo goes everywhere with Max, and has meet several other imaginary friends, who are amazed at how long Budo has existed. Budo makes sure school is safe for Max, checking the toilets are empty, keeping an eye on Tommy Swinden who has threatened to kill Max, after Max told a teacher about the knife Tommy brought to school. As Max didn’t imagine Budo being able to sleep, he is able to learn about Max’s world by listening to the concerns and fears of Max’s parents, and as he can travel without Max, he goes out at night, exploring the neighbourhood and surrounding area.
At school, Max has a wonderful homeroom teacher, but he also spends time with other teachers, to help him integrate into school life. One of those teachers, Mrs Patterson, has taken a special interest in Max, which Budo finds alarming as the routines have changed and Max seems strangely calm about this. Max has a secret which involves Mrs Patterson, and for the very first time won’t share something with Budo. When Max disappears from school and cannot be found, it is up to Budo to rescue his friend. But how does an imaginary being find the friend he loves, and rescue him when no-one else can see or hear him, or even believe in him?
I believe in all the imaginary friends – Graham, Summer, Oswald, Teeny and especially Budo and his struggle to free his friend, even though it may cause Budo to fade away and no longer exist. I hope you do too.
Reviewed by Fiona Mackie, book lover and Booksellers NZ Facebook friend
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend
by Matthew Green
Published by Sphere