Day, S. (2009). My Invisible Boyfriend. New York: Scholastic Press.
Okay, so this is another book that got my attention before it was even published and then post-publishing it kept slipping to the far side of the mountain of books in my To Read As Soon As Possible Pile.
But look, here I am, getting to it!
Appetizer: Fifteen-year-old Heidi is in love with Mycroft Christie, the protagonist of her favorite cancelled TV series. So with the start of a the new school year, she's excited for another year of watching her favorite show and hanging out with her four best friends. However, when the new year begins, Heidi is in for a shock when all of her friends seem a little more...boy fixated than they were last year.
A small misunderstanding leads to her friends thinking Heidi has a boyfriend too. A deception she goes with that only leads to more and more misunderstandings and problems comparable to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (which by the way, also happens to be the play Heidi and her friends are working on for the end of the term).
I initially had a little trouble getting into My Invisible Boyfriend. I found Heidi's voice a little off-putting. I had to reread a sentence or phrase here and there to make sense of them. But as the plot started to pick up and Heidi was developing the story behind her imaginary boyfriend, I started to get used to the voice and eased into it.
I did really like a lot of the tensions of the books. What was Heidi to do? All of her friends suddenly had boyfriends. Heidi wasn't ready to be kissed by any random guy. So, why not re-imagine her favorite TV character has her boyfriend? She just wanted to belong.
I hadn't anticipated that Day would be using the fan-girl angle to inspire Heidi's characterization for her imaginary boyfriend. I thought that was a nice touch, especially as a person who is prone to having literary crushes of my own. (My imaginary boyfriend would also be British...and we'd meet by him apperating right beside me. Sure it'd be awkward at first, what with him having to explain to me that magic existed, but then we'd have an awesome snarky conversation over a latte (me) and tea (him). (Sigh.*)
Ahem, Refocusing...Plus, since Heidi contemplates aspects of her favorite show and has imaginary conversations with one of the characters, the story forms a meta-narrative, encouraging the reader to think about the qualities of a book or show in the same way.
It's also worth noting, that despite Heidi's imagined conversations with Mycroft. She never feels like a character who has lost touch with reality. She's just adapting to the situations at school using what she knows best.
Also, the way she creates her boyfriend's personality online is very interesting. It reinforces the small ways that personality is shared and includes the subtle message about online stranger danger.
One of the minor characters was nicknamed "Peroxide Eric" for his dyed hair. I couldn't help but think of the name Eric and how it seems to attract some type of adjective, description, marker-thing. For example, I have a friend who has a boyfriend named Eric. He is regularly called "Eric the Swede" by everyone. In my head, this guy's name is Eric the Swede. Although I think I have yet to say that to his face. Mainly because I don't get to see him that often. Then there's Eric in the Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris. Viking Eric. Eric the Vampire.
I'm just wondering. Is it because the name is so short?
"You know your life is not exactly normal when you're sitting on the steps on the first day of school, sugar-high giddy from knowing they're about to unlock the doors.
But then no one at Finch is normal. They only send you here when you've been kicked out of every other boarding school on the planet--if your parents can afford it" (p. 2).
"Mycroft Christie, in case you live under some kind of rock, is the most brilliant person in the universe, and totally my boyfriend. Sort of. Technically, he's not real. Technically, he's the debonair twenty-third-century time-traveling hero of the best! TV show! ever! Mycroft Christie Investigates is not actually going to turn up on my doorstep anytime soon to whisk me away to fangirl heaven" (p. 3).
"I realize I'm not dealing with zombie robot doppelgangers. It's the love potion episode. Every TV show has it sooner or later. Magic spell, monster bite, something in the water: romantic Kryptonite that makes people lick faces with people they shouldn't. Mycroft Christie ended up snogging a vampire, an evil old lady who trained exploding hamsters to break into banks, and Jori Song (twice) while under the influence of bad mojo. Hilarious consequences generally ensue.
It's not so entertaining when you're in the middle of it" (p. 15).
"It's like being undercover. I could be exposed at any moment but only if I miss up and say too much. It's a total thrill" (p. 46).
Tasty Rating: !!!!