Gavin means “white hawk, friendly warrior, hawk of the battle” (Celtic: from the hawk field; contented one)
Psalm 119:34, 39-40 (NIV)—Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with my whole heart. Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good. How I long for your precepts. Preserve my life in your righteousness.
You can tell right away that Gavin Goodfellow is the main character (protagonist) because his name is plastered all over the cover of the book. God has great plans for Gavin, but this awkward kid wouldn't understand. After all, why should a seventh grader with a learning disability deserve any special treatment? He's certainly no hero—at least not yet. Born on March 3, 1995, he has spent most of his twelve years asking Charlie Brown's favorite question, “Why does everything have to happen to me?”
Not only does Gavin have dyslexia, but his dad, Bruce Goodfellow (the mayor of Ashboro), has high expectations of his only child and is always comparing him to his cousins—Eric because he's so athletic, and Molly because she's so smart. Gavin's grades are lousy (had to go to summer school), but he is unconditionally loved by Louise Goodfellow, his sweet, stay-at-home mom, who makes sure that her family attends Mount Hope Meeting Ground services every week.
Gavin's reddish-blonde, thick hair is cut in a long flattop, like a whisk broom; his eyes are like cracked amber glass with golden lashes, and his small nose has a light dusting of freckles. He is left-handed. He wears red and black Nike Shox Turbo IV shoes that cost $100 (his dad wanted him to have footwear that his friends would admire). At 4'10” and 98 lbs., Gavin is trim and well-proportioned but not interested in sports, especially since he has a weak knee that sometimes gives out when he tries to run. He may not play ball, but he watches ESPN every morning and keeps track of the stats and scores of every sport, keeping this little hobby to himself.
What he likes to do most is play his Infiltrators game and visit good old Uncle Warney at his shack because he makes a fuss over him. Gavin also enjoys looking at the pictures in his Ninja comic books and is learning to whistle—chirps like an artificial bird; can't do a tune yet but makes a cheerful sound that seems to irritate others if he does it too much. Lately, he has developed the nervous habit of biting his bottom lip, and he seems to have a knack for getting in trouble even though he tries hard to be a “good kid” and live up to the “Goodfellow” name.
Baptized as an infant, Gavin was saved at 3:00 p.m. on March 3, 1998, when he was three years old, during a revival service at Mount Hope when a woman prophesied a great calling on his life. His dad always said it was a “bunch of malarkey,” but Uncle Warney has been making a fuss over it for years.
Gavin has always been a daydreamer, but his daydreams takes a quantum leap when he has his first “vision” and a ghost-like Uncle Warney presents him with a Fig Newton-sized book he invites him to “eat.” Huh? Now, does that make any sense? It does when Gavin begins to understand that God is calling him to obedience whether it makes sense or not. Gavin is filled with doubts and fears about what the Lord might require of him and constantly wonders what he's supposed to do.
There are some character flaws Gavin has to overcome (like lying) before he can grow into the “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” overcomer that God is training him to be. But in his opinion, Gavin's greatest obstacle is winning the approval of his father who, for some reason, never finds anything that Gavin does good enough.