In this sequel to Freak the Mighty (1993), Max, the freakishly gigantic child, comes to the rescue of Rachel, called Worm because of her devotion to books. When he takes her away from her abusive stepfather, the Undertaker, Max is accused of kidnapping, and the two embark on a cross-country odyssey to find her real father. Pursued by police and the vengeful Undertaker, they make their way to Montana, where Worm's father was killed years before in a mine disaster and where they face a final confrontation with the Undertaker in the depths of the mine. While the book is populated by stock characters from central casting (an aging hippie in a '60s-style bus, a train-hopping hobo with a heart of gold, a pair of charming con artists, and, of course, the evil Undertaker), Philbrick avoids making it into a cartoon. The story moves along at a good clip, the friendship between Max and Worm is warm, and the other characters give the proceedings a touch of melodrama. Despite Max's certainty that happy endings don't happen, everything is tied up satisfyingly at the end.