Sunshine is the one person who understands Jason, who helps him when the voices in his head make it hard to know what is real and what is an illusion. The two of them, plus Drip (Derrick), ride the short bus home from school each day and battle the bullies who make hard lives even harder. Sunshine is so shy that she almost never speaks; she is selectively mute. Drip has ADHD; Jason—Freak—is schizophrenic. They call themselves the ‘alphabets’ because their disabilities are known by acronyms—ADHD, GAD, SCZI, SM.
One day after school, Roland and Linden, who bully the group regularly, stop the three friends from getting on the bus. Roland calls Sunshine ‘pretty girl’ and says he wants to go out with her. Freak feels frustrated that he can’t stand up to Roland. Finally, the three escape when Sunshine’s brother sees the situation and intervenes. They ride home and step off the bus to go to their separate houses.
Sunshine never arrives. She’s missing. When the FBI intervenes, Freak realizes he is the number one suspect because people think the voices in his head will make him do anything. His mom has even brought along a lawyer to sit in on Freak’s interview with the FBI agent.
Freak has to learn to be Jason as he and Derrick search for clues to Sunshine’s disappearance. But the FBI agent says that once twenty-four hours have passed, the outlook for finding a missing teen is pretty bad. And the clock is ticking.
High school housekeeping: Freaks Like Us is a good little mystery wrapped in a book about the true meaning of friendship. I mean is it literally little—a few hundred pages in a small format. It’s a moderate read, about 7th grade level. It’s good for a quick diversion. With its mystery and underdogs, it’s also a good book for struggling teen readers who want to push themselves to the next level.