Deep, well-written story with somewhat strong violence.
Maxwell Kane is a feared boy, because his father, nick-named "Killer Kane," murdered his mother and was put in jail. Max himself, however, is a self-described "butthead, with no brain." However, one day he meets Kevin, aka "Freak," a boy with Morquio syndrome; in English, this means that although his internal organs are growing, Kevin's height and physical body is only about two feet tall. Kevin and Max become best friends, with Max carrying Kevin everywhere, and Kevin teaching Max how to read and write and study.
Killer Kane strangles his wife in front of Max's eyes. Iggy and Loretta Lee are crooks and lazy slobs. Kids tease Kevin and Max (one for his height, the other for his intelligence).
As for the positive characters, however: Kevin's mom loves him very much even though her husband left him. Max's "Grim and Gram" also love him and pray that he doesn't end up like his dad. Max and Kevin are the best of friends for each other.
Max and Kevin's families celebrate Christmas together. Kevin believes in evolution, and it is assumed that since Max absorbed Kevin's knowledge, he believes in it, too.
Killer Kane killed his wife and tried to kill Loretta and even his son. Iggy and Loretta scare Max and Kevin by intimidating them and not allowing them to go home at one point in the story. Strangling is described as "light leaving from the eyes."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Killer Kane is obviously an abusive father, and a drunkard. Iggy and Loretta Lee drink and smoke as well.
Based on the bad guy's character, it can be assumed that they are probably not very clean people. The book does not mention about sex though.
Crude or Profane Language or Content
"Freak" is the nick-name of Max's best friend Kevin. Although Max does not use this term derogatorily, even he calls Kevin "freak," like almost all the other characters in the book (except for Max and Kevin's families). "Butthead" is used.
I did like this book. It shows what some kids have to go through in their daily lives. It also shows how a close friend is a gift from God. But keep in mind that the violence in this book is rather strong, and the strangling is fairly graphically described.