|Gym Candy Reprint Edition
Contributor(s): Deuker, Carl
ISBN: 0547076312 ISBN-13: 9780547076317
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Binding Type: Paperback - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: September 2008
Annotation: An award-winning author explores the dark corners of the heart of a young football player as he struggles for success, in this novel that tackles the issues surrounding the players decision to cross the line.
|Library of Congress Subjects: |
- Football; Fiction.
- Fathers and sons; Fiction.
- High schools; Fiction.
|Lexile Measure: 710|
|Academic/Grade Level: Grade 7-9, Age 12-14|
|Book type: Juvenile Fiction|
|Physical Information: 8.50" H x 5.50" W x 1.00" (0.70 lbs) 313 pages|
|Accelerated Reader Info|
|Quiz #: 117053
Reading Level: 4.6 Interest Level: Upper Grades Point Value: 9.0
|Scholastic Reading Counts Info|
|Quiz #: Q42105
Reading Level: 3.7 Interest Level: Grades 9-12 Point Value: 17.0
|Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.
Mick Johnson is determined not to make the same mistakes his father, a failed football hero, made. But after being tackled just short of the end zone in a big game, Mick begins using "gym candy," or steroids. His performances become record-breaking, but the side effects are terrible: Mick suffers 'roid rage, depression, and body acne. Gym Candy's subject matter is just as hard-hitting as its football scenes. You'll find yourself unable to look away as Mick goes down a road that even he knows is the wrong one to travel.
Contributor Bio(s): IV>Carl Deuker participated in several sports as a boy. He was good enough to make most teams, but not quite good enough to play much. He describes himself as a classic second-stringer. "I was too slow and too short for basketball; I was too small for football, a little too chicken to hang in there against the best fastballs. So, by my senior year the only sport I was still playing was golf." Carl still loves playing golf early on Sunday mornings at Jefferson Park in Seattle, the course on which Fred Couples learned to play. His handicap at present is 13.
Combining his enthusiasm for both writing and athletics, Carl has created many exciting, award-winning novels for young adults. He currently lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife and daughter.
Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #5)
Mick Johnson lives, breathes, eats, sleeps (insert any similar verb here) football. But Deuker's protagonist isn't a stereotypically dimwitted jock. He's a complex character who evolves, as Deuker reveals detail by painful detail, from a four-year-old kid who loves playing football with his father to a teenage steroid junkie who won't be second best. Deuker makes it clear that Mick walks into steroid use with his eyes wide open. He knows about all the side effects, from nipple puffiness and acne to the more serious 'roid rage and depression -- and he winds up experiencing them all. When a teammate discovers his stash of "gym candy," Mick reaches his breaking point and grabs a gun to resolve the matter. The story's tight focus is its real strength -- subplots are few and are linked to football -- mirroring Mick's single-minded focus on the sport. He has no time for girls, no time for friends. And Deuker doesn't wimp out with an everything-turns-out-peachy-keen ending. Instead, Mick lands in rehab, where he says all the right things to the counselors but still longs for the juice. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2007 October)
Gr 7–10— Deuker tackles high school steroid use with his usual spot-on characterizations, exciting game-play descriptions, and an entirely credible depiction of one athlete's decision to use illegal substances to become bigger, faster, and stronger. Mick's earliest memories are of playing football with his dad, once a high school/college star running back and third-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers, but now a radio sidekick in Seattle. Learning the truth about his father's career—that he was a football bad boy who squandered his talent—motivates Mick to work harder than ever. He earns his place on the varsity as an incoming freshman but comes up short on the big play of the final game that season. Initially rejecting the offer of steroids from his personal trainer at the gym, Mick is eventually convinced to give it a shot, injecting XTR during the next season and becoming a touchdown-scoring machine. Deuker realistically portrays the paranoia, acne, and emotional roller-coaster that are side effects of steroid use and the constant pressure to win that drives some athletes to succumb to illegal drugs. The climax involving gun violence and the importance of friends who can back you up eerily parallels Robert Lipsyte's Raiders Night (HarperCollins, 2006), although minus that book's sexualized swagger; this one is pitched for a younger audience. The disturbing and powerful denouement will leave readers uncertain whether, even after having undergone residential substance-abuse counseling, Mick will be able to stay off the "juice."—Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA[Page 148]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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