Freak the Mighty Summary
Freak the Mighty is a novel by Rodman Philbrick about Kevin and Max, childhood friends who bond over their disabilities and help each other navigate life.
- Max has a learning disability, and Kevin wears leg braces. They bond over their disabilities.
- When Max is teased by his classmates, Kevin climbs onto Max's shoulder and declares them "Freak the Mighty."
- Max's father is released from prison and he kidnaps Max. Kevin saves Max and Max's father is arrested again.
- Kevin dies after suffering a series of seizures, and Max falls into a depression. Max works through his grief by writing about Freak the Mighty.
Kevin is brilliant, but his body is so crippled by birth defects that he has to wear braces on his legs. Max is huge and powerful, but he has been so scarred by life that he feels dumb and worthless. Independently, each boy seems like half a person, but when they meet the summer before eighth grade starts, they join together, becoming inseparable friends as Freak the Mighty.
The novel Freak the Mighty tells the story of one defining year in the boys’ lives. It follows them through their first meeting, their summer adventures, their return to school, and even Max’s Christmas Eve kidnapping at the hands of his murderous father. Although the boys are eventually reunited, their happiness cannot last forever. Kevin’s health problems worsen, leading to his death and the end of Freak the Mighty. A devastated Max learns how to face the world without his best friend.
Full of what could be trite or maudlin subject matter—a learning-disabled narrator, a physically challenged boy, a convict father—Freak the Mighty integrates every element smoothly and naturally. The result is a charming, funny blend of realism and fairy-tale dreaming that in the end is very moving.
Max and Kevin met for the first time when they were both in day care. Max was an angry kid called Kicker because he kicked everyone, while Kevin called himself Robot Man because of the leg braces he had to wear. Then Kevin stopped coming to day care, and the boys lost contact until they saw one another briefly in third grade.
The summer before eighth grade, Kevin and his mother moved in next door to Max’s grandparents’ house, where he lived in the basement. The boys meet again when Max helps Kevin get his mechanical bird from the tree where it is stuck. The two boys become friends, and the two families start visiting back and forth.
On the Fourth of July, the boys are on their way to see the fireworks when they run into Tony D. and his gang of teenage thugs. Kevin teases them, and the situation potentially turns dangerous until a police car shows up. The boys have a great time watching the fireworks, with Kevin sitting on Max’s shoulders, but as the crowd breaks up, Tony D. and his friends find them again. Kevin guides Max as the pair runs away, leaving Tony and his gang stranded in a muddy pond.
Max’s grandparents are happy that Max was there to help Kevin (though Max knows it was really Kevin whose quick mind helped him). This starts a happy and extended partnership between the two boys. Every morning Kevin comes over to rouse Max, who carries Kevin all over town. They have imaginary quests, such as looking for dragons, and as they do, Kevin encourages Max to think, dream, and read. On one of these quests, Kevin guides Max to the hospital’s medical research building, claiming that the hospital staff is developing robot bodies and when they are ready Kevin’s identity will be transplanted into one.
Their quests become real one morning when Kevin arranges for Max to get up at 3 a.m. and dress all in black. Kevin then guides Max to a sewer grate where a purse has fallen. They return it to the owner the next day, which means going into the tenement housing on the far side of the pond, a poor and crime-ridden place. The purse’s owner, Loretta Lee, lives with Iggy Lee, head of a local motorcycle gang. The adults tease the boys a bit and talk to them;...
(The entire section is 1,137 words.)