Summary: Chapter 12: Killer Kane, Killer Kane, Had a Kid Who Got No Brain

Max and Freak run home from the New Testaments, neither admitting to the other that they were scared the whole time they were at Loretta and Iggy’s apartment. Freak tells Max that what Loretta said about his father is true, but “good riddance to bad rubbish.” Neither one mentions Killer Kane.

Eighth grade finally arrives, and Freak and Max are in the same class. This news clearly stuns Max, who has learning disabilities, but Grim thinks it might be good for Max to be with a friend. 

In English class, Mrs. Donelli, who’s new to the school, asks Max to stand up and tell the class about his summer. She doesn’t know that Max never talks in front of the class. His classmates yell slurs at him. During the commotion, Freak climbs on top of a desk and yells, “Order in the court!” Next thing Max knows, Freak has climbed onto his shoulders and they’re strutting around the room. With fist raised in the air, Freak shouts “Freak the Mighty! Freak the Mighty.” Before they know it, the whole room’s shouting, “Freak the Mighty!”

Not surprisingly, Max and Freak end up in the office of Mrs. Addison, the principal. Freak asks if he can explain. He uses such big words that Mrs. Addison is poring through the dictionary as he talks. Freak is able to keep Max and him from getting in trouble.

Summary: Chapter 13: American Chop Suey

October arrives, and things are going well for Max. Freak has helped him with his studies, explaining things to Max in ways he can understand. Freak’s description of the words on the page as “voices on paper” has helped Max read. But his struggles with writing continue, which, according to Freak, is supposed to be like talking.

On Friday the thirteenth, Max is called to Mrs. Addison’s office, and Gram is there. Max fears he’s being moved back to his old class. But the news is about a message his father has sent through the parole board. Max’s father wants Max to vouch for his release. This idea causes Max to have a panic attack. Mrs. Addison apologizes profusely for causing Max such stress.

In the cafeteria that same day, Freak eats what he calls “gruel,” which is actually American chop suey. Suddenly, he can’t breathe, and is rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Even for a Friday the thirteenth, Max decides, this was a bad day.

Summary: Chapter 14: Cross My Heart and Hope to Die

Freak comes home from the hospital the next day, and explains to Max that he’ll have surgery, a biogenic intervention, in a couple of years. Max would rather Freak stay the way he is. Freak assures him that nothing ever stays the same. He explains that his insides are growing, but his outside isn’t. 

Things go back to normal for Freak and Max. As Christmas approaches, Max is in his basement trying to wrap presents when he hears Gram and Grim arguing upstairs. It sounds to him like Grim wants to get a gun, for protection. Eventually, Grim comes downstairs and tells Max that his father is being let out on parole. Grim reassures Max that everything will be fine but tells him to stay home for the next few days.

Summary: Chapter 15: What Came Down the Chimney

Freak, Fair Gwen, Max, Grim, and Gram spend a quiet Christmas Eve together. After dinner, they sit around while Grim tells stories about being so poor as a boy that he didn’t even receive coal in his stocking. Gram admonishes him for telling lies, which he insists are “tales” because they’re intended to entertain. 

The group exchanges Christmas gifts. Max gives Freak a multi-functional tool, which Freak thinks is cool, and Max knows he’ll invent things with it, if he wants. Freak gives Max a dictionary that Freak has made of all his favorite words, alphabetized. Freak is particularly proud of what he’s done with the Z’s. For Max, Freak’s gift to him is the absolute best.

Max falls asleep thinking about all the evening’s happenings, but he wakes up when he senses wind in the room and realizes it’s breathing. Someone else’s breathing. A hand covers Max’s mouth. Max’s father has come for him. 

Analysis: Chapters 12–15

Grim and Gram are starting to understand just how much Freak’s friendship has benefitted Max. When Grim and Gram are discussing whether to sign off on moving Max out of special classes for students with learning disabilities and into mainstream classes, Grim realizes that in addition to helping Freak get around the arrangement might be good for Max as well. This suggests that they are also finally starting to see more of the person he is rather than projecting their fear of his father onto Max.

The reader sees once again how Max and Freak’s friendship makes both boys stronger when Freak the Mighty makes an appearance on the first day of school. When Freak sees that his friend is being mocked by classmates, he shifts attention to himself and then climbs onto Max’s shoulders. By taking control over the situation as Freak the Mighty, the friends are able turn the mood of the class in their favor. But more importantly, having Freak on his shoulders, both literally and figuratively, allows Max to feel “strong and smart.”

Chapter 13 begins with the information that it is Friday the Thirteenth and the intimation that something bad is going to happen. Indeed, Max ends up having a breakdown in the principal’s office when Mrs. Addison shares his father’s request for Max to testify on his behalf to the parole board. Of note is the fact that Max’s first concern when he calms down and realizes the nurse is crying, he assumes he hurt her and apologizes for it, illustrating, yet again, that Max is nothing like his father.
The adults around him are finally starting to realize what a kind and empathetic character Max is despite his violent father and his physical appearance, even as the day gets even worse. Freak can’t breathe and has to go to the hospital. Max’s response when Mrs. Addison tries to comfort him by acknowledging that Max has had “quite a day” is that it is really Freak who has had a bad day. This causes Mrs. Addison to look at Max differently.

Freak continues to use the bionic transplant story to give Max (and possibly himself) hope and to protect Max from what is to come. When Freak comforts Max by telling him that he’ll be getting his “biogenic intervention” soon, he mentions that Gwen can’t know about the plan. This makes it clear to the reader that Freak's plan is a fantasy, as children don’t have major medical procedures without their parents' consent. During the families’ shared celebration of Christmas Eve, Grim tells his own embellished “tales,” which he insists aren’t lies because they are meant to entertain. This draws readers’ attention to the idea that there can be different reasons for not telling the truth. Sometimes people lie maliciously in ways that hurt others, but sometimes lies are stories meant to entertain, to bring hope to a hopeless situation, or to protect other people.

The tone of the book changes abruptly at the end of Chapter 15. In stark contrast to the warmth and love of the Christmas Eve celebration, Max wakes up to a feeling of cold coming into his bedroom. That cold represents the return of his father, who has snuck into the basement in the night.