Imagination is an incredibly powerful force, often associated with children and daydreamers. Generally, an overactive imagination is not a cause for concern, except in Andrea Lochen’s Imaginary Things.
Twenty-two year old single mother Anna Jennings moves in with her grandparents, again, with her four year old son David after losing her job in Milwaukee. Small town living reminds Anna of her childhood time living with her grandparents, a far simpler time before the manic mood changes of her ex-boyfriend Patrick that left her seeking sole custody of their son. Accompanying their move to Salsburg are David’s imaginary dinosaur friends and a shadowy creature, which Anna can SEE. Trying to cope with all of life’s sudden changes, along with the wrench of seeing her son’s active imagination, Anna tries to puzzle out what David’s projections could mean and how it relates to her own childhood and battered relationship with her mother.
Horribly cliched love story with her childhood friend/neighbor and the predictability of David’s fear manifested in the form of the “bad cat” aside, the story was engaging and well-written. The element of mystery and suspense was tempered with fanciful, childish renditions of tumultuous events, which balanced the concerns that Anna has with David’s way of handling them in a way that he can more easily understand. I sort of got the feeling that Anna’s ability to see her son’s imagined friends and fears was meant to be magic realism. The magic realism aspect of Anna being able to see David’s imagination is something that hasn’t been touched upon by many stories, although I felt as if if it were meant to be magic realism that there was far too much examination and rationalization given to how and why Anna could see David’s mental creations, because in magic realism these types of things are simply accepted as part of the world–but then again, I could be completely off-base about it.
Overall, I’d give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.