Freak the Mighty Summary

Rodman Philbrick

Freak the Mighty

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Freak the Mighty Summary

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Freak the Mighty was written by Rodman Philbrick and published in 1993. It is the story of two boys who don’t fit in, Max, who is big for his age and towers over all the other kids, and Kevin, a boy known as “Freak” who is tiny but very intelligent.

Maxwell Kane, a young boy with low self-esteem, lives with his Grim and Gran, his grandparents. He is big for his age, and he is unable to make friendships. His father is a killer, and people are afraid of him because he resembles his father so closely. Max begins to tell us his memories of daycare and meeting a boy named Kevin.

Kevin, known as “Freak” by the other kids, has a lot of difficulties due to his disabilities. He is highly intelligent and resilient, but he wears leg braces, uses crutches, and has Morquio syndrome. The other kids bully him because he’s short. Max, however, really likes Kevin and thinks his braces are neat.

Years later, Max finds out that Kevin is moving in next door. When he greets Kevin, Kevin is hostile to him. A few days later, Max rescues Kevin’s ornithopter from a tree, and they begin to hang out. On the Fourth of July, a gang of bullies attacks them while they are watching fireworks, but they manage to escape. After the show is over, the bullies chase them again, but they jump into a millpond with Freak on Max’s shoulders. The police chase the bullies off and take the boys home.

After this incident, Freak begins to ride on Max’s shoulders regularly, and they go on adventures. One time, they rescue a purse for a woman who turns out to be Loretta, the girlfriend of the leader of a local biker gang. The gang considers having “fun” with the boys, but they know Max’s father and are afraid he might get out on parole and take revenge. They let them go.

Freak ends up at the hospital after an emergency at school, and later Grim tells Max that his father has been paroled. Max is afraid, and it’s revealed that Grim and Gran don’t like his father. We find out that Max’s father killed his mother by strangling her, and they are afraid that Max will end up like him. Then, on Christmas Eve, Killer Kane (Max’s father) kidnaps him to train him as his assistant.

His father is even bigger than he is, and he acts threateningly. He ties Max to a chair in his apartment and leaves him there. He swears he didn’t kill Max’s mother. Loretta is shocked that he would do such a thing to his own son. She tries to help Max escape but she is unsuccessful. Kane attempts to strangle Loretta. Max intervenes, revealing he witnessed his father kill his mother in the same way. Freak arrives just in time and saves Max by spraying Kane in the eyes with something he claims is sulphuric acid, but turns out to be a mixture of curry powder, soap, and vinegar.

The police take Killer Kane back to prison where he’s given his original sentence plus ten years, and Max goes back home. Freak has a seizure on his birthday, and when Max visits, Freak gives him a blank book and tells him to write down all his adventures. The next day when Max returns to the hospital, he is told that Freak died in the night. Max has to be restrained by security when he loses it and starts lashing out. He does not attend the funeral and for months, he mostly stays in his room until Gran finally insists that he return to school.

One day, he sees Loretta, who tells him that doing nothing is a drag. Max finds the blank book given to him by Freak, and he begins to tell the stories of the previous times. In the end, his story is called Freak the Mighty.

One of the themes of the book is friendship. Max and Kevin might be unlikely friends on the surface, but they are both ostracized, drawing them to each other. Each complements the other, and this relationship allows them to become better people. For Max, who was previously isolated and uninterested in friends, his relationship with Kevin causes him to do better in school, be more polite to his grandparents, and experience a social awakening by getting out of his room.

Max begins the book in isolation, believing that staying away from other people will protect him. He is used to rejection and prefers to spend most of his time in his room. After his friendship with Kevin begins, he is able to see the value of having experiences in the outside world, and eventually blossoms into a big hearted person.

Appearances can be deceiving. Everyone is afraid of Max because he is bigger than everyone his age, and because he resembles his father who is a killer. Everyone underestimates Kevin because of his disabilities, but he turns out to be a thoughtful and resourceful person. Appearances don’t always tell the truth about who people are, and through their friendship, both boys are able to reach more of their potential.

Freak The Mighty is a book about unlikely friendship, and about seeing people for who they truly are. The friendship that Max and Kevin share is something that brings both of them out of their comfort zones and reveals unlikely characteristics of both. Their relationship has a long lasting influence, particularly on Max who, at the end of the book, must continue without Kevin and does so by telling their story.