Confessions of an Imaginary Friend: A Memoir by Jacques Papier

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Confessions of an Imaginary Friend: A Memoir by Jacques Papier Book Poster Image
Whimsical, breezy faux memoir told by an imaginary friend.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Provides readers experience in taking another's point of view -- in this case, a fanciful, imaginary one. The writing is sprinkled with strings of clever, fresh, unusual metaphors. Some adult concepts and vocabulary may go over kids' heads, such as an anonymous support group meeting, defibrillators, bucket lists.

Positive Messages

Being helpful to others is worthwhile. Even when you feel invisible, your contribution can be important.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jacques the imaginary friend is likable and relatable and feels very "human" since it's difficult for him to admit painful truths. Though he's upset and unnerved by his new reality, he persists and is game and resourceful, accepting the friendship and support of others like him. He realizes that there's great satisfaction in helping others, and he embraces his new role.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Confessions of an Imaginary Friend, which bills itself in the subtitle as A Memoir by Jacques Papier as told to author Michelle Cuevas, is a faux memoir in the first-person voice of an imaginary friend. The twist is that Jacques thinks he's a real boy, a twin instead of an imaginary friend, and it's tough for him when he finally acknowledges the truth. Over the course of the story, he meets a host of other fanciful characters in Imaginaries Anonymous, a support group for imaginary friends, and serves as a helpful and supportive imaginary friend for a string of different kids. The tone's a bit adult, and many of the references are fairly sophisticated, likely to fly over the heads of middle-grade readers. But the core idea of a character who feels invisible is highly relatable.

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What's the story?

CONFESSIONS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND: A MEMOIR BY JACQUES PAPIER is a tale told by a character who's a figment of a girl's imagination. At first he thinks he's her twin and therefore real, so when evidence to the contrary starts accumulating, he's baffled. When Jacques finally understands, he gets upset, meets other imaginary friends at a meeting called Imaginaries Anonymous, and is assigned to work as an imaginary friend for a series of other kids, embarking on an emotional journey.

Is it any good?

There's lots to love in this highly fanciful, sometimes adult and sophisticated book narrated by an imaginary friend who struggles with the realization that he's not real. Jacques feels invisible and unseen -- because he is! Jacques' emotional journey takes him through friendships with other imaginary friends and stints working as an imaginary friend for several kids.

There are references throughout that are beyond the experience of middle-grade readers: anonymous support group meetings, accountants, defibrillators, bucket lists, and various abstractions -- for instance, a pancake shaped like a Mozart symphony. But kids will relate to the feeling of being unseen, of being last to be picked for the kickball team, and ignored at the lunch table. The premise is exceedingly clever, and the abundant whimsy and breezy humor add to the fun of viewing life through the eyes of someone who's imaginary. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about feeling invisible or unnoticed. What makes you feel invisible? What makes you feel noticed?

  • Have you ever had an imaginary friend? Where do you think imaginary friends go when kids don't need them anymore?

  • What kinds of imaginary friends can you think up? Can you draw sketches of them the way the author did?

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