"Moone Boy: The Blunder Years" and "The Imaginary"

New York Times Book Review, May 2015

Imaginary friendhood is suitable only for children. Unlike riding scooters and having tantrums — done by the fully grown as often as the young — chatting with invisible pals beyond a certain age can result in hospital stays for exhaustion. But do today’s overscheduled kids even have time for an imagined ­companion’s limitless adventure and unconditional love? Two new novels made me hope they do.

Though it’s not essential to enjoying the wildly entertaining “Moone Boy,” I urge parents to allow their middle-­graders five minutes (or an hour?) of the TV show the book serves as a kind of prequel to. I say this not just because my Irish roots make me vulnerable to the defeatism and melodies of Irish storytellers, but because exposure to the preposterously winning Chris O’Dowd, whose character narrates the show, provides a bonanza of gifts.