I love magical realism. Stories about a mundane post office in Iowa are fine, but stories about a mundane post office in Iowa that uses bespectacled flying cats to deliver letters between our world and The Other World are obviously so much better. Sure, you'd expect to see that sort of thing in The Other World, but in Iowa?! Neat!
So I like Cecelia Ahern's novel If You Could See Me Now because it's a whimsical piece of magical realism in which imaginary friends are serious professionals who hold regular staff meetings. Their offices are one floor away from the Wish Analysis lab. Naturally, that's the place where trained technicians test dandelion seeds and meteorites to identify the wishes made upon them!
But If You Could See Me Now is also a sensitive, nuanced story about friendship, family, and learning to relax and embrace new possibilities. It could've deteriorated into a hackneyed romance novel, and I'm so glad Ahern eschewed (bless you!) predictable romantic plot lines in favor of something richer and more subtle. I'm tickled by the irony: It's a fictional story about imaginary friends, but these characters seem more believable than most.
Not sure if you'd like it? Maybe you didn't like Ahern's other book, P.S. I Love You? Here's a spoiler-free synopsis: Elizabeth Egan is wound up so tight she's about to crack. She maintains freakish order at all times to compensate for her chaotic family life. She's spent her life building an interior design business and caring for her lonely father, alcoholic sister, and her six year old nephew, Luke. It's nice that she cares for the boy, except she confines him to one room so he doesn't leave fingerprints all over her house.Yeah, Elizabeth has it all under control--and maintaining constant control is turning her into a harpy!
When Luke asks Elizabeth to set the table for an invisible friend named Ivan, Elizabeth is not amused. She doesn't know that Luke's invisible (not imaginary!) friend is very real. He's also carefree, handsome, and exactly the kind of friend Elizabeth needs. When Ivan notices that Elizabeth senses his presence, he realizes she needs him even more than Luke does.
Want to know more? Read the book!
P.S. Don't y'all be stealin' my post office in Iowa book idea. I think I'm really on to something there! /sarcasm