I have read more than my fair share of books about kids, teens and adults on the autism spectrum. I have been fascinated by the ways our brains work in such completely different ways. For the most part, these novels have been written by adults not on the spectrum, but they attempt to put together what is going on in someone else's brain and turn that into a complete character. I recently read Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks and he took this concept about five steps further, in a truly creative way.
Max is an eight-year-old with Asperger's syndrome who has an imaginary friend named Budo. This book is told from Budo's point of view. He understands Max in ways many adults do not. And he understands the world in many ways that Max can't figure out. But this isn't just about their special friendship. It's also about the friendship Budo has with other imaginary friends, that only he can see. In my mind, that is the genius aspect of this book. As a kid, I always figured after I fell asleep, all my stuffed animals and dolls hung out and played together and then went back to the same place before I woke up. So the thought of imaginary friends getting together when other humans couldn't see them is beautiful in my mind.
There is a suspenseful part to the book which I won't give away. And if you don't like Jodi Picoult, ignore her blurb on the cover. Ok, yes, there's some moments where you have to allow for some magical realism. But the sheer wherewithal the author used to keep this story true to the imaginary friend's point of view is astounding. I look forward to reading more of his books.