Freak the Mighty by: Rodman Philbrick
Max (the narrator of the book) and Freak had not seen each other since kindergarten. Max had had a rough childhood, he saw his dad kill his mom when he was very little and afterwards lived with his grandparents. Max had always been teased by other kids and called dumb; he had always been the slowest in his class. Freak was little, really little, but he was the smartest kid in their school. Freak couldn’t walk well. He had a disease called Morquio Syndrome that stopped his growth and caused seizures. Freak moved next door to Max the summer before 8th grade and they became friends. Freak would ride on Max’s shoulders and together they became Freak the Mighty. When school started, Freak helped Max – he taught him to read books and explained things the teachers could not. The only thing Freak wasn’t able to teach Max was how to write a story. Freak tells Max about how he’s going to get an operation to get a robot body and how it’s the only thing to save is life.
That Christmas Max’s father “Killer Kane” was released from prison. On Christmas Day, Freak gives Max a dictionary he made himself. That night, Max’s father sneaks into the house to kidnap him. Max was not surprised – he thought to himself, “I knew he’d always come for me.” Killer Kane takes Max to the New Testament, a poor part of town. There they stay with Killer Kane’s friends Iggy and Loretta. Killer Kane ties Max up while he plans their escape. Loretta feels this is wrong, and when Killer Kane is distracted, she unties Max. Killer Kane returns, becomes angry and tries to strangle Loretta. Max confronts his father with the fact he killed his mother. In the meantime, police have the surrounded the house. Freak learns where Max is and bursts into the room with a water gun. He finds Killer Kane strangling Max, and squirts him with what he claims to be a chemical (really just vinegar and curry powder). Max escapes with Freak.
After the police arrest Killer Kane, things go back to normal, until Freak becomes sick. He gets worse and worse and then finally one day when Max comes to visit him at the hospital he dies. Max doesn’t believe it at first because Freak had told him he was going to get an operation and every thing would be fine. Then he finds out that Freak knew he was going to die and he needed something to look forward to.
In the book Max changes a lot. He goes from being alone to having a wonderful friendship, he learns how to write a story and read a book. He gets over Freak’s death after a while -“For a long time I felt like a balloon and somebody had let the air out of me.”- And then he writes the book. If Max didn’t change (gotten smarter with Freak’s help) in the book then it would be as good because then Freak couldn’t have left such a big impact in Max’s life.
The main conflict in this book is that Freak is sick and there is no cure for his disease, although that’s not what he believes or what he tells Max. The conflict never really gets resolved; it just ends when Freak dies. This conflict makes me sad because there isn’t a resolution.
I like the way Rodman Philbrick writes the story from Max’s point of view. It helps you understand how Max really feels and how he “never had a brain until Freak came along.” With this point of view you can empathize, and feel what Max is feeling, this let me enjoy the book even more.
I really enjoyed reading this book because it was such a page turner I didn’t want to put it down. There were many suspenseful parts that made me catch my breath. I think that it was below my level but I enjoyed it just the same. I would recommend this book to an upper elementary student or someone who’s english is his/her second language. Another reason I like the book was because of the message. I think Rodman Philbrick was trying to tell us that friendship is more important than death and no matter how short a friendship lasts, it’s more important that it lasted than that it ended.