Reader’s Guide for Imaginary Things

1) At the start of the novel, Anna feels defeated to be returning to Salsburg, which she connects with boredom, failure, and provincial attitudes. What changes her perception of life in the small town, and how does it change?

2) Duffy and Winston each have their own personalities and styles of being a grandparent. How does Duffy demonstrate her affection, and in what ways does Winston show his? How do their different approaches help Anna in different ways? Do you see examples of either in the way Anna parents David?

3) After the end of her relationship with Patrick, Anna speculates that “mania was true love. And it could consume you like it had consumed Patrick, or it could leave you feeling tired and used up, like it had left [her.] Nothing seemed to exist in between.” How and why does her attitude about love change over the course of the novel?

4) Why does it take so long for Anna to see Jamie as someone other than her childhood friend and the “boy next door?” What qualities does he possess that make him a good fit for Anna?

5) Why do you think David creates his dinosaurs? What do King Rex and Weeple individually represent and what roles do they serve for him? In contrast, why does he create the panther and what function does it perform?

6) What do you think really happened between David, Gunner, and King Rex during the disastrous play date? In the world of the novel, do you think that imaginary friends could be capable of physically affecting their environments? What other clues might suggest this?

7) As a child, why does Anna dream up Leah Nola as her imaginary friend? What role does Leah Nola play in her life, and what light does this shed on Anna’s own personality and past?

8) What do you think of Kimberly’s character and the choices she made as a parent? Do you agree with Anna’s assessment of her? Why or why not? Do you think the mother and daughter could ever restore their relationship?

9) Do you think seeing imaginary friends is a hereditary trait, or do you think there is some other reason both Anna and her mom, Kimberly, were given the opportunity to see their child’s imagination? Compare and contrast the ways the two women handle the surreal situations.

10) Did you or your child ever have an imaginary friend? How do you think this and other games of make-believe affect children’s development? In what ways do adults use their imagination? Is there anything we can consider as imaginary friends for adults?

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