Did Everyone Have an Imaginary Friend (or Just Me)?

Did Everyone Have an Imaginary Friend (or Just Me)?

Adventures in Boyhood

About the Book

Jay Ellis, star of HBO’s Insecure, tells the story of growing up with an imaginary best friend you will never forget—part Dwayne Wayne from A Different World, part Will Smith from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—in this hilarious, vulnerable memoir.

“So funny, poignant, and personal. I loved this and you will, too.”—Mindy Kaling, author of Why Not Me? and Nothing Like I Imagined

What to do when you’re the perpetual new kid, only child, and military brat hustling school to school each year and everyone’s looking to you for answers? Make some shit up, of course! And a young Jay Ellis does just that, with help from his imaginary friend, Mikey.

A testament to the importance of invention, trusting oneself, and making space for creativity, Did Everyone Have an Imaginary Friend (or Just Me)? is a memoir of a kid who confided in his imaginary sidekick to navigate parallel pop culture universes (like watching Fresh Prince alongside John Hughes movies or listening to Ja Rule and Dave Matthews) to a lifetime of birthday disappointment (being a Christmas-season Capricorn will do that to you) and hoop dreams gone bad. Mikey also guides Ellis through tragedies, like losing his teenage cousin in a mistaken-target drive-by and the shame and fear of being pulled over by cops almost a dozen times the year he got his driver’s license.

As his imaginary friend morphs into adult consciousness, Ellis charts an unforgettable story of looking inward to solve to some of life’s biggest (and smallest) challenges, told in the roast-you-with-love voice of your closest homey.
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Praise for Did Everyone Have an Imaginary Friend (or Just Me)?

“Nothing is more annoying than knowing that a handsome movie star like Jay Ellis is also a talented writer. His debut collection of essays is so funny, poignant, and personal. I loved this and you will, too.”—Mindy Kaling, author of Why Not Me? and Nothing Like I Imagined

“Not only affirming but also transporting, a true beacon for both our younger and older selves who were once lonely, and perhaps are still lonely at times, but always capable of wielding our immense imaginations . . . This is a joyous, celebratory, fluorescent, and fully alive book.”—Hanif Abdurraqib, author of A Little Devil in America

“Heartwarming, heartbreaking, and seriously hilarious, this book is an ode to imagination—that which dwells inside all of us, waiting to run free. Jay Ellis has written a brave, necessary book, filled with coming-of-age stories packed with solid life lessons. I wish I’d read this as a young person, but am even more grateful to have found it as an adult.”—Mateo Askaripour, author of Black Buck 

“Poignant and delightfully nostalgic with a perfect blend of humor and candid self-reflection . . . This is an essential reminder to nurture the worlds we build in our minds as children—and as adults, too.”—Zakiya Dalila Harris, bestselling author of The Other Black Girl

“Pairing youthful exuberance with the nostalgia of a man looking back on his formative years, this book is told with verve, charm, and joy. By the time you finish, you’ll wish you had an imaginary friend like Mikey, too.”—Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of The American Daughters
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About the Author

Jay Ellis
Born in Sumter, South Carolina, to a military family, Jay Ellis spent his childhood inventing new personas for every town he landed in. After college, he decided to take his one-man show to Hollywood, where he got his start in a recurring role on BET’s The Game. Now an actor, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, Ellis is best known for his role as Lawrence on HBO’s Insecure, for which he won an NAACP Image Award. He appeared alongside Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick. More by Jay Ellis
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