Dear Rodman Philbrick,
Failure and discomfort were never topics of discussion in my life, and I was not at all accustomed to having those feelings in my world as a sixth grader living in the middle of nowhere. It wasn’t until two years ago when my eyes were opened to different, more painful lives that children my age live and have lived. It wasn’t until two years ago when I read your book, Freak the Mighty, that my heart was torn into pieces and at the same time, grew exponentially.
The real world is where Max and Freak live. Where people have disabilities that will kill them, and some children's’ lives are negatively altered due to violence or developmental delays. When reading your book, I was instantly attracted to Max’s raw sense of humor, while at the same time feeling empathy for him as he struggled in his academic performance and relationships with everyone he interacted with. The raw narration lured me into the deepening plot, and the humor endured as I was introduced to Freak and more of Max’s heartbreaking past. I was so incredibly sheltered in sixth grade, that I had never truly been exposed to abuse, developmental delays, disease, death, grief, bullying, and even the magic of an irreplaceable friendship. Your masterpiece of a novel taught me this and more.
Freak remains the most amazing, funny, and raw character I have ever come across in a book. He not only danced into Max’s life, he danced into mine and changed it for the better in a myriad of ways. Since reading Freak the Mighty, I have lived with greater humility, and haven’t looked down on anyone. Freak may have been small, but his heart grew to the point that it was too big, leaving mine so large that by the end of the story it had broken into a thousand pieces. Never had I read of a character that was so bright and so inspirational. Despite his size, Freak was a bigger person than most I’ve come across in my own life. Freak and Max’s adventure pulled every last one of my heartstrings, and despite the aches due to the brilliant plot, I never wanted it to end. Not only were my eyes opened by the terrors that Max’s father displayed, but I gained more self confidence after meeting Freak. Additionally I learned a thing or two about just how good I have it.
Upon reading your beautiful novel, I shed tears of grief, laughter, and heartache, and every time I pick it up and read it, I am alongside Freak and Max “slaying dragons and fools and walking high above the world.” The bold topics which were covered all opened my eyes to the real world where life just isn’t always fair. Now, two years after first reading Freak the Mighty, I live with more gratitude, kindness, and confidence. Someday, if I am ever exposed to any of the topics covered throughout your novel, I will react appropriately to the specific situation, and remember all that this book taught me. Additionally, I am not nearly as judgemental as I was before reading your book, and I have since gained awareness as to all of the horrors as well as wonders that this world has to offer.
With sincere appreciation,