Under the Covers blog entry for Tuesday, Sept. 4,  2012

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

By Matthew Dicks

(St. Martin’s Press, $24.99, 320 pages)

Who is this author?

If you live in West Hartford, you may already know Matthew Dicks. He’s a fifth-grade teacher at Wolcott Elementary School, was named the town’s Teacher of the Year in 2005 and made it to the finals for Connecticut Teacher of the Year. Or maybe you know him from his other job running Jampacked Dance Floor DJs, or his work as a life coach and occasional minister. But even if you don’t, you should get to know Dicks as a writer who has just published his third novel, “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend.” The Newington resident’s earlier books are “Something Missing” and “Unexpectedly Milo.” He will give a free talk about this novel on Thursday, Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hartford Public Library.

What is this book about?

Its narrator is out of this world: he’s Budo, the imaginary pal of 8-year-old Max, a boy who is perched somewhere – never quite defined – on the autism spectrum. Max is a little old to have an imaginary friend, something most children abandon a lot earlier, but since Max has trouble relating to the world, having any and every kind of friend is of great help. And Budo proves to be even more important when one of Max’s teachers goes over the line in her efforts to care for him. It’s Budo who sets out to rescue Max, with the help of other children’s imaginary friends. West Hartford readers will be pleased to learn that one of the characters in the story, Mrs. Gosk, is a real-life teacher at Wolcott whom Dicks and students alike admire.

Why you’ll like it:

The book offers a clever and compassionate way into the worlds of little kids in general and of one of those kids who is not like the others. As a teacher, Dicks understands the way kids think and behave, and the insights he has gleaned from his work illuminate this story. His earlier books had very appealing heroes who had thinking disorders, and Dicks proves again here that he is particularly adept at showing how unusual minds work. This story will tug your heartstrings and also make you smile.

What others are saying:

“A novel as creative, brave, and pitch-perfect as its narrator, an imaginary friend named Budo, who reminds us that bravery comes in the most unlikely forms. It has been a long time since I read a book that has captured me so completely, and has wowed me with its unique vision. You’ve never read a book like this before. As Budo himself might say: Believe me,” says best-selling author Jodi Picoult.

“An incredibly captivating novel about the wonder of youth and the importance of friendship, whether real or imagined. Delightfully compelling reading,” says Booklist.

Publishers Weekly says: Elementary school teacher Dicks’s quirky and pleasant newest is narrated by Budo, eight-year-old Max Delaney’s imaginary friend of five years, who also serves as Max’s guardian/confidante and can only “persist” so long as Max doesn’t “forget” about him. Max’s dad, a manager at a Connecticut Burger King, and Max’s mom, a manager at Aetna, argue and fret about the introverted Max, a “late bloomer” and “special needs” student. …A chipper narrative and lively climax make Dicks’s newest a fun read and engaging exploration of the vibrant world of a child’s imagination.”

“An imaginary friend can be the best friend a boy’s got. But how can an imaginary friend help when the boy faces very real danger? …Max is able to cope with the close quarters of public school, the unpredictable people and the surprises of everyday life with the help of not only his parents, but also his teacher, Mrs. Gosk, and his imaginary friend, Budo. Told from Budo’s perspective, Dicks’ latest novel explores the interior life of an imaginary friend, and imaginary friends have one overriding concern: What will happen to them when their imaginer forgets them? …Budo helps Max find words, stops him from running out into traffic, and even helps him survive a terrifying encounter with the fifth-grade bully, Tommy Swinden, in a bathroom stall. But Budo is thwarted when … Max disappears. This time, Budo will have to go out into the world alone, and since he cannot interact with any adults, he will have to rely on the imaginary friends of other children to save Max…” says Kirkus Revews.

When is it available?

I imagine you can find it on the shelves at the Downtown Hartford Public Library.

Do you have something to say about this book, this author or books in general? Please post your comments here and I will respond. Let’s get a good books conversation going!



Best Friend Forever

Matthew Dicks, who teaches at Wolcott Elementary School in WestHartford,has just published his third novel, “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend” (St.Martin’s, $24.99). The former West Hartford Teacher of the Year’s latest isabout an imaginary pal who continues to accompany the book’s central characteras he grows older, with humorous and heartbreaking consequences.

Matthew Dicks


Author of “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend”


Thursday, September 13, 6:30PM

Join us for an author talk and signing with Matthew Dicks. Narrated by Budo, a character with a unique ability to have a foot in many worlds—imaginary, real, child, and adult—Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend touches on the truths of life, love, and friendship as it races to a heartwarming and heartbreaking conclusion.The perfect read for anyone who has ever had a friend . . . real or otherwise.

Matthew Dicks is a writer and elementary school teacher. His articles have been published in theHartford Courant and he has been a featured author at the Books on the Nightstand retreat. He is the author of two previous novels,Something Missing and Unexpectedly Milo. Dicks lives in Newington, Connecticut, with his wife, Elysha, and their daughter, Clara.

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