What if your childhood imagination was more powerful than you thought?
This one has taken me quite a while to write. To be honest, I fell away from reading for a little bit over the last month, and this book took me longer to finish than it should have. “Imaginary Friend” had been sitting on my shelf for quite a while, but I’m glad that I picked it up and finally read it. Although it was a little confusing in places, I was hooked, and the desire to figure out exactly what was happening kept me reading.
“Imaginary Friend” by Stephen Chbosky tells the story of a little boy named Christopher, and his mom, Kate, who are on the run from Kate’s abusive ex. These two have quite the inseparable bond after dealing with Christopher’s father’s suicide. Kate, struggling to provide the best life she could for her son, made sure her son was happy and healthy. Shortly after settling down in Mill Grove, Pennsylvania, Christopher goes missing after following the sounds of a child deep into the mysterious depths of the Mission Street Woods.
After six, grueling days, Christopher emerges from the woods, but there is something different about him. There is a voice that echoes in Chrostopher’s head, a voice that only he can hear, that repeats the same ominous message: build a treehouse in the clearing of the woods before Christmas or everyone will die. During interviews with the police, Christopher could only remember one thing about his time in the woods--the nice man helped him survive.
Besides the voices in his head, Christopher emerged from the woods to find that school, which used to be hard for him due to his dyslexia and aversion to math, was suddenly easy. Christopher found himself acing tests, reading full books by himself, and he even used the correct answers from his math test to help his mom pick winning lottery numbers.
As Kate became more suspicious of her son, and as Christopher convinced his friends to help him build his treehouse, it becomes clear that Christopher’s newfound gifts were bestowed upon him for a much greater purpose than simply becoming a good student.
The townspeople of Mill Grove begin experiencing weird sensations as a burning itch, and what feels like the beginnings of a severe flu, travel around, but those most affected seem to be those who have had close contact with Christopher. As the flu-like symptoms continue spreading (and become more severe), Christopher is forced to come face to face with the responsibilities that have been placed on his shoulders and the fact that the fate of the world now rests with him.
The concept of this story was absolutely brilliant! I have never read Chbosky before, but I was blown away by his ability to expertly create such beautifully written characters, settings, and storylines. One of the features that stood out to me the most about this book was the way that Chbosky wove together the storylines of different characters. I appreciate how the reader is able to get glimpses of insight and action from characters other than Christopher. To me, this creates a more enriching narrative and adds a depth that allows the reader to truly become immersed in the narrative.
The clever way in which Chbosky crafted the imaginary side to mimic what was happening on the real side is a clever commentary on how our actions, and their consequences, can play out in unexpected ways.
This is definitely a longer read, but one that I would highly recommend. If you are looking for a book that is heartfelt, funny, scary, mysterious, thought-provoking, gripping, and packed with twists and turns, then do yourself a favor and pick up “Imaginary Friend.”
4 out of 5 stars