• Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Defect - Will WeaverSee larger image
See Hi-Res Jpeg image

email/print EmailPrint


Awards: Minnesota Book Award Finalist

Recommendations: Booklist; Bulletin-Center Child Books; Horn Book; International Reading Association; Kirkus Reviews; NCTE; School Library Journal; VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

Book Trade PaperbackBuy
Ebook Ebook 
Share this book with friends through your favorite social networking site. Share:           Bookmark and Share
Add this title to your virtual bookshelves at any of these book community sites. Shelve:             
sign up to get updates about this author
add this book's widget
to your site or blog

About The Author

Will WeaverWill Weaver

WILL WEAVER is the author of numerous books for young adults. His most recent novel, Full Service, was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review, hailed it as “pitch perfect” and “superb.” He lives in Bemidji, Minnesota.. More

photo: John Bauer


Minnesota Book Award Finalist


Bulletin-Center Child Books
Horn Book
International Reading Association
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal
VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

Stay In Touch

Sign up to recieve information about new releases, author appearances, special offers, all related to you favorite authors and books.

Other Books You Might Like

cover Buy

More formats
Saturday Night Dirt

Square Fish
Start Your Engines!
cover Buy
Full Service

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The times they are a-changin' . . . The summer that Paul turns sixteen his mother pushes him to take a job in town instead of just working on the family...
cover Buy
Anything But Ordinary

Frances Foster Books
From the moment their romance begins in eighth grade, Winifred and Bernie are individualists. They pride themselves on being different, and have each other for...
cover Buy

More formats
Funny How Things Change

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Remy Walker has it all: he found the love of his life at home in crumbling little Dwyer, West Virginia, deep in his beloved Appalachian Mountains where his...
cover Buy

More formats
A True and Faithful Narrative

Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR Paper
In Restoration London, sixteen-year-old Meg Moore is something of an anomaly. Unlike other girls her age, Meg pores over books. She spends long hours...
cover Buy

More formats
Everything Beautiful in the World

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Lately I feel like an astronaut out on a space walk – constantly praying the tube attaching me to the ship doesn’t snap and send me flying into outer darkness....
cover Buy

More formats
Big Slick

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
All in all, sixteen-year-old Andrew Lang has been dealt a pretty good hand in life. Sure, he has to spend his afternoons slaving away in the hellhole that is...
cover Buy
Of Sound Mind

Sunburst Paperbacks
A poignant novel partially set in a world of silence High school senior Theo is fluent in two languages: spoken English and sign. His parents and brother,...
cover Buy
The South Beach Diet Supercharged
Faster Weight Loss and Better Health for Life

St. Martin's Paperbacks
Five years ago, with the publication of The South Beach Diet, renowned Miami cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston set out to change the way America eats. Now he...
cover Buy

More formats
Audio eBook
The Last Days of Jesus
His Life and Times

Henry Holt and Co.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus walked across Galilee; everywhere he traveled he gained followers. His contemporaries are familiar historical figures: Julius...
cover Buy
Tikki Tikki Tembo

Square Fish
Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo- chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo! Three decades and more than one million copies later children still love hearing about the...


The fight is going down tonight. By the time school lets out, word has spread. Even the Student Council types who have thrown the rare "Hey" David's way turn their backs on him.
"Just because you look weird, that's no reason why you have to act weird," kids whisper.
"If people like David just tried to fit in, they wouldn't have so much trouble."
"It's really not Kael's fault."
That would be Kael Grimes, David's main tormentor. David's ingrown hair. David's zit that never goes away. This is Minnesota, where people stare at anything new or different, but Kael has been watching him for eight months, six days, and about three hours. In other words, since David started high school here at Valley View High. Right now Kael and clowns are clustered twenty lockers down the hallway--as usual thinking David can't hear them. One of the many things Kael doesn't knowabout David is that his flesh-colored "hearing aids" are there to keep the sound out.
"I shouldn't have to look at that freak all day," Kael mutters. He's a short, wiry wrestler type with blond-tipped brown hair.
"His head looks like it got run over and squashed," a pal chimes in.
"His mother must have smoked crack or something."
"Maybe she drank a lot--there's that thing called feeble alcohol syndrome," Kael says.
David has been waiting for this moment. He gives his locker a major, theatrical I've-finally-had-enough slam and stalks up to Kael. Heads turn; people nudge one another. "Whoa, watch out!" somebody says.
Kael, whose father was a champion heavyweight wrestler at Valley View High not that many years ago (coaches still talk about him), straightens up his full five feet, four inches. "Hey, Stink, what's up?"
Laughter from Kael's crowd.
"It's fetal alcohol syndrome, you idiot," David says, "not 'feeble.' As in damage to the fetus. If anybody, you should know, midget." He's almost a foot taller than Kael, though he probably weighs the same.
Kael blinks several times. His pals look at one another; they're stuck on figuring out how David overheard them. David with his two hearing aids. "So, Stink, you read lips or something?" one of the clowns asks.
"Or something," David says.
Kael's neck seeps rusty red; he gets the fetal alcohol joke. He leans closer. "You know what, freak?" he says, his breath sugary rank from chewing tobacco. "Just for that I'm going to kick the crap out of you."
"You?" David says. "Or you and your feeble pals?"
"Just me. They can watch."
His gang laughs.
"Fair enough," David says. "Since you no doubt can beat me up, I should get to pick where and when--you know, like the dying prisoner's last request?"
Kael gets a blank, suspicious look; he glances, snakelike, to both sides without moving his head.
"Let him, Kael. Hey, why not?" his pals whisper.
Kael shrugs. "Okay."
"Tonight. Up on Barn Bluff, just after dark."
Kael squints.
"Unless you're afraid of heights."
"Not me, Stink."
"Middle of the bluff, north side, by the lookout over the river?"
"I know where it is. We'll be there, Crackhead. Just make sure you are."
At home at supper with the Trotwoods, his foster parents, David tries to act normal. So to speak.
"Everything all right at school today?" asks Mr. Trotwood as he passes the potatoes. Earl Trotwood has a square face with kindly blue eyes and thick farmer'shands--because he is a farmer. A hog farmer. David lives on a hog farm--a modern, industrial one with low, shiny barns off-limits to visitors, but a hog farm nonetheless. David, who grew up in New York City. (He reminds himself of this with regularity because he worries about forgetting. Forgetting the city. Forgetting his mother.) But the Trotwoods are nice people who don't pry into his personal life. They don't go through his things. He has set traps for them in his room--arranged pencils and papers just so, measured their spacing before and after--but it's clear that they don't come into his room. Not like other foster parents he has had.
When he was twelve years old, his mother sent him to Minnesota, where he would be "safe." (Safe from what? He liked New York City, its people, its neighborhoods, its smells, its food.) He first stayed with distant relatives in South Minneapolis. Really distant relatives. The parents, a biker couple, were hardly ever home, so David and his second cousins ate lots of stolen candy bars, plus pet food when they were really hungry. Canned cat food, especially Purina brand with "chicken bits," was not that bad. However, Social Services people caught up with the family, and all of the kids ended up in foster care. His mother wrote that she would come for him--but only when she got "stronger." "For now, anywhere in Minnesota is probably better than with me," she wrote. The Trotwoods, for reasons beyond David's brain, picked him out of a foster care listing of "Kids Who Wait" and brought him home.
"School? Pretty much okay," David replies. He shovels in another mouthful of food; this keeps him from having to talk.
Mr. and Mrs. Trotwood exchange a glance. In the silence, David's fork clinks loudly on his plate.
"Remember, David, the first year of high school is tough for everyone," Margaret Trotwood says. "Turning sixteen is not an easy time." She has an open face and warm blue eyes that have never looked on him with anything but kindness; he also knows that she talks to his high school counselor behind his back.
"I'll remember that, ma'am, thank you," he says, and finishes up.
After supper he tends to his homework at the dining room table, periodically checking his watch as the sun sinks lower. It's spring, April in Minnesota, and while the days are warmer, they are still short. "Darn!" he says suddenly.
"What is it, David?" Mr. Trotwood asks from his recliner.
"I forgot to do my history assignment."
"What kind of assignment?" Mrs. Trotwood asks.
"Some research on the Vietnam War," David answers.
"Can't you go online?" Mr. Trotwood asks. "You're welcome to use my office." Despite his flannel shirts and faded denim overalls, there are no flies on this hayseed: He has a souped-up Gateway computer in his office and multiple live feeds from fixed cams in his farrowing barn.If you want to watch pig birthing or track growth curves and feed budgets, Mr. Trotwood's office is the place to be.
"We're supposed to find an actual book--so we don't forget how, Mrs. Johnson says."
The Trotwoods look at each other; that makes sense to them. "I suppose you could drive to the public library in town," Mrs. Trotwood says. "You have your farm driving permit."
"It won't take long, I promise," David says, and gathers up his things.
"Be home by nine thirty!" she calls after him. "And remember your shower tonight. Hygiene is important for growing young men."
"Yes, ma'am," he says. All his foster parents found some way to comment on his body odor, a unique scent that clung to him, resistant to all soaps and hot water. Beyond being able to drive at fifteen, the only other possible benefit to living on a hog farm was that it sometimes masked his smell. But not to Mrs. Trotwood.
"Call us if you have trouble of any kind," she hollers.
"Thank you. I will," he calls back. He feels bad lying to the Trotwoods about his evening plans, but only briefly. It's almost like they're asking for it.
Copyright © 2007 by Will Weaver

You May Also Be Interested In

cover Buy

More formats
The Search for Delicious

Square Fish
In this kingdom, one word can start a war.
cover Buy
I, Juan de Pareja

Square Fish
The story of a great painter and the slave he helped to become an artist.
cover Buy
Moominsummer Madness

Square Fish
Flooded out of their old home, the resourceful Moomin family readily take to life in a floating theatre where many strange things happen, odd even by Moomin...