Imaginary Things by Andrea Lochen
Watching children play and invent whimsical games of fantasy is one of life’s great joys. But what if you could actually see your child’s imagination as it unfolded? And what would you do if your child’s imagination suddenly became dark and threatening?
Burned-out and broke, twenty-two-year-old single mother Anna Jennings moves to her grandparents’ rural home for the summer with her four-year-old son, David. The sudden appearance of shadowy dinosaurs forces Anna to admit that either she’s lost her mind or she can actually see her son’s active imagination. Frightened for David’s safety, Anna struggles to learn the rules of this bizarre phenomenon and how best to protect him. But what she uncovers along the way is completely unexpected: revelations about what her son’s imaginary friends truly represent and dark secrets about her own childhood imaginary friend.
Living next door is Jamie Presswood, Anna’s childhood friend who’s grown much more handsome and hardened than the boy she once knew. But past regrets and their messy lives are making the rekindling of their complex friendship prove easier said than done. Between imaginary creatures stalking her son and a tumultuous relationship with David’s biological father, Anna may find it impossible to have room in her life or her heart for another man. But as David’s visions become more threatening, Anna must learn to differentiate between which dangers are real and which are imagined, and whom she can truly trust.
I enjoyed this story. It’s about a young mother who moves in with her grandparents when she runs out of money after losing her job. It’s the classic failed-at-life-in-the-big-city type of small town tale except that Anna is able to see her 4 year old son David’s imaginary friends – two dinosaurs – and the shadow creature he’s conjured up that is haunting him.
The plot was a bit predictable, but I liked the characters. Anna was doing the best she could after a life with a horrendous mother and a loving but mentally unstable ex-boyfriend. Her grandparents were awesome – very helpful, caring, and supportive. And Jamie was the most wonderful of boy next door type love interests.
The developments with David and his imagination held my interest as well, but nothing really blew me away. I especially enjoyed this setting – Milwaukee and the nearby small towns. Living in Milwaukee myself, I knew of many of the locations mentioned, which was fun. Lochen lives in Madison, so the city highlights are authentic, although I think all of the small towns were fictitious. I couldn’t find any of the on the map.
This book isn’t a must read, but it’s enjoyable, especially if you like child-relate trauma type stories or best-friend-turned-lover type tales.
My Rating: 3 stars
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