At the beginning of the story, David is young, about ten years old. As a youngster, he is kind and considerate. When he meets a little girl who gets her foot stuck, he helps her instead of turning her in because she has an extra toe.
David is surprised when Sophie’s mother thanks him and tells him he’s a good boy. He is not sure how to respond.
I felt awkward, and looked at my shoes. I couldn't remember anyone saying before that I was a good boy. I knew no form of response designed to meet such an event. (ch 1)
David’s upbringing was sparse. His father was stern and his mother not much better.
Despite being young and having an over-bearing, tyrannically religious father, David still manages to have a mostly peaceful childhood. His biggest problem is that he has a special power that makes him different. David is telepathic in a community where deviance is not accepted.
One of the first milestones for David growing up, when he has to become more mature, is when he realizes that his little sister Petra is telepathic too. Since she is too little to control her emotions, he has to protect her.