Gym Candy

Gym Candy

by Carl Deuker


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Friday, February 21
57 New & Used Starting at $1.99


“Look, Mick,” he said, “you’re going to find out from somebody in the gym, so you might as well find out from me. Those supplements you’re taking? They might get you a little bigger, but just a little. If you’re after serious results, there’s other stuff that produces better results much faster, stuff that a lot of guys in the gym use.” “What other stuff?” “You know what I’m talking about—gym candy.”

Runningback Mick Johnson has dreams: dreams of cutting back, finding the hole, breaking into the open, and running free with nothing but green grass ahead. He has dreams of winning and of being the best. But football is a cruel sport. It requires power, grace, speed, quickness, and knowledge of the game. It takes luck, too. One crazy bounce can turn a likely victory into sudden defeat. What elite athlete wouldn’t look for an edge? A way to make him bigger, stronger, faster?
This novel explores the dark corners of the heart of a young football player as he struggles for success under the always glaring—and often unforgiving—stadium lights.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547076317
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 09/22/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 73,980
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 710L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Carl Deuker is a celebrated author of “top-flight sports writing matched to uncommonly perceptive coming-of-age stories” (Kirkus Reviews). He describes his younger self 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.” He was a teacher for many years in the Seattle area, where he now lives with his wife.

Read an Excerpt

My earliest memory is of an afternoon in June. I was four years old, and I was in the backyard with my dad. He’d just bought me a purple and gold mini football, my first football. He’d marked off an area of our backyard with a white chalk line. “Here’s how it works, Mick. You try to run there,” he said, pointing behind the line, “and I try to stop you.” He shoved the mini football into the crook of my arm, led me to the far end of the yard, went back to the middle, got down on his knees, and yelled: “Go!”

I took off running toward the end zone. Our backyard is narrow, his arms are long, and even on his knees he could move fast enough to catch a four-year-old. Time after time I ran, trying to get by him. But he never let me have anything for nothing, not even then. Over and over he’d stretch out one of his arms and tackle me. Sometimes the tears would well up. “There’s no crying in football,” he’d say, which I guess is a joke from some Tom Hanks movie, and he’d send me back to try again.

And then I did it. I zigged when he was expecting a zag, and I was by him. I crossed the chalk line at the end of the yard, my heart pounding. I remember squealing for joy as I turned around. He was lying on the ground, arms reaching toward me, a huge smile on his face. “Touchdown Mick Johnson!” he yelled. “Your first touchdown!”

All those years, I believed that every kid in the neighborhood was jealous of me. And why not? I’d spent time at the houses of the boys on my block —Philip and Cory and Marcus. I’d seen their dads sprawled out on the sofa. Mostly they’d ignore me, but if they asked me something, it was always about school. I’d answer, and then they’d go back to their newspaper. These fathers drove delivery trucks or taught high school or worked in office buildings in downtown Seattle. They wore glasses, had close-cropped hair, and either had bellies or were starting to get them. Everything about them seemed puny.

My dad was bigger and stronger than any of them. His voice was deeper, his smile wider, his laugh louder. Like me, he has red hair, only his was long and reached his shoulders. He wore muscle T-shirts that showed his tattoos—on one shoulder a dragon, on the other a snake. He kept a keg of beer in the den, and whenever he filled his beer stein, he’d let me sip the foam off the top. The way he looked, the way he acted—those things alone put him a million miles above every other kid’s father. But there was one last thing that absolutely sealed the deal—my dad was a star.

Our den proved it. It was down in the basement, across from my mom’s laundry room, and it was filled with scrapbooks and plaques and medals. Two walls were covered with framed newspaper articles. It was the headlines of those articles that told his story. I used to go downstairs into the den, pick up one of the game balls that he kept in a metal bin in the corner, and walk around and read them, feeling the laces and the leather of the football as I read. Mike Johnson Sets High School Yardage Record . . . Mike Johnson Leads Huskies over USC . . . Mike Johnson Named to All–Pac Ten First Team . . . Mike Johnson Selected in Third Round.

Sometimes my dad would come in while I was staring at the walls. He’d tell me about a touchdown run he’d made in a rainstorm against Cal or the swing pass in the Sun Bowl that he’d broken for sixty-five yards. When he finished with one of his stories, he’d point to the two bare walls. “Those are yours, Mick,” he’d say. “You’re going to fill them up with your own headlines.”

My mom had been a top gymnast at the University of Washington the same years my dad was on the football team. She runs around Green Lake every morning, and she used to do the Seattle-to-Portland bicycle race, so she knows all about competition. But every time she heard my dad talk about me making the headlines, she’d put her hands on my shoulders and look at me with her dark eyes. “You don’t have to fill any walls with anything,” she’d say. “You just be you.” Then she’d point her finger at my dad. “And you stop with all that ‘bare walls’ stuff.”

My dad would laugh. “A little pressure is good for a boy. Keeps him on his toes.”

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Gym Candy 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 132 reviews.
JacksonR More than 1 year ago
Gym candy is about a high school football running back and is forced into something that he never had even imagined before his personal trainer recommended it. he wanted to be bigger and do physical stuff longer. Mick ended up taking the steroids that his trainer put him on and was the starting running back by the end of the summer. once his friend drew, the starting QB for shilshore high, suspects something is up he tries to see what is happening. the entire book was well wrote and was a good read for everyone even if you dont like sports. i recommend this book to anyone who likes books that make you want to turn the page and keep reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading this book. I really loved it. All of the books I have read by Carl Dueker are awesome. I really liked this book because it kinda let you almost be in Mick's shoes.
Dt-_-113 More than 1 year ago
This book shows knowingness of the ability of how to write an intersting book. I first thought when I read this it would be good at most, but it blew away my expectations with its ability to picture the image in my head. I could see them on the weight bench with everyone standing around, going up and down with their 180's. One was draggor but I cant reacall the other ones name... Overall an amazing read and I would definately reconmend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this now
stonelaura on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very stark, and probably, realistic portrayal of the steroid abuse of a talented high-school football player that has a startling, disturbing and open-ended conclusion. The book takes us quickly through the childhood and middle school years of Mick Johnson as his ex-football star father turns Mick into a football obsessed, varsity team freshman. The author includes lots of football practice and game details and carefully develops the drive, desire and pressure Mick feels in his quest to be, not just good, but the best player ever. He wants to see his name in headlines alongside his father¿s but, like his dad, he also strays from the acceptable path to success. The ending (SPOILER!) when Mick is confronted by his concerned best friend and turns a gun on himself is quite upsetting. The short epilogue that lets us know he lives through his suicide attempt and enters therapy still leaves open the possibility that Mick might have a hard time resisting ¿the quick fix¿ in the future.
MrsHillReads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a powerful book! Already this book is being read by the guy sports fans. The story was so believable...what pressure our student athletes have to deal with! Probably the best part about the book was the ending--not a feel good type ending. Good read for student athletes & parents.
GaylDasherSmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well written story about the use of steroids in high school football. Makes the decision to partake understandable. Nice example of the pressures teens often experience.
ilbooklvr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an accurate portrayal of a high school sophomore and his quest to be the best player on his football team. He wants this for himself and for his father, a former pro football player. Mick Johnson begins using legal substances to bulk up and become bigger, stronger, faster. Before long, a trainer has given him steroids. The expected results happen; Mick gets somewhat better but has some problems with the side effects. The situation comes to a head when his friend finds out about the steroid use. I thought the ending was going to be a little too pat and cliche, but it redeemed itself and was realistic.
jordan777 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The novel, Gym Candy, portrays peer presure. In the beginning, the protaginist, Mick Johnson, struggles to become stronger when all of his teamates are counting on him, In the middle, he begins took take steriods but has side effects like rage issues. I haven't finished it so I do not know what happens at the end.
cdurling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A page turner. Boy gets hooked on steroids to get bigger and faster for football. His father was an NFL has been. He eventually gets too far gone and eventually shoots himself and lives. Shows the horrible side of steriods.
mjspear on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Inside look at high school football -- joys, politics and perils -- as well as steroid abuse. Mick Johnson's motivation and continued addiction is easy to understand as he drives to please his father. Peter, the fitness expert, is also shown to be sincerely conniving (?!) Ending is abrupt: Mick attempts suicide, enters rehab center.
DuffieJ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Carl Deuker's "Gym Candy", published in 2007, follows the challenges faced by high school student Mick Johnson. Following an encounter with an employee at a local gym, Mick begins to use steroids. The rest of the book deals with his struggles to give up on the drug. The effects that taking "gym candy" have on his mind and body are the major focus of the last two-thirds of the book. Mick is a believable character, a football player who feels enormous pressure to live up to his father's reputation has a small-time football player. There is plenty of action on the field and Deuker does a good job of conveying the excitement and rush of a football game. Mick's choice of taking steroids is (of course) never a good choice but the reader does get a sense of the pressures Mick puts on himself. There is also a strong warning about using throughout the book without it ever coming across as "too preach-y". A great book to recommend to sports fiction fans or reluctant readers. This book would be best recommended to high school students. The book won a couple of YA book awards in Texas and was named a YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults.
bostonfan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. If you like books about football you would love this book too. It is about a football player in high school. He takes steroids when he is a sophomore. In the end of the book I was surprised that he was trying to commit suicide so he wouldn't get in trouble with his coach. But he pulls up on the revolver when he pulls the trigger so all he did was rip some skin and burn some hair off. That is only a little part of the exciting stuff that happens in Gym Candy.
omphalos02 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Weak writing and disturbing undercurrents bring this story down. The implied gay-bashing is especially troubling. The ending is low-key and intimates that the steriod (the "Gym Candy")use is not necessarily over.
JohnD4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't like this book because it didn't have much action. In this book Mick who is plays football 24/7 gets on the football team and he works out and he wants to be stronger so a younger player doen't take his spot so he starts to take stereriods.
mattsya on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The strength of this novel is the football scenes. Deuker clearly knows the game very well and demonstrates the intensity, strategy and violence of the game perfectly. However, Mick Johnson is not a clearly defined character--a standard jock character seen a million time before. Football fans will appreciate the great game scenes, while others may quickly become bored.
4sarad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You know if a book can get me interested (and even EXCITED) about football, it must be really well-written. This book made me lose myself inside the competitive world of high school football. It was exciting, compelling, and interesting to read. I didn't like the fact that the main character seemed to be the only boy to take vitamins and supplements and then was the only one to get messed up in steroids--I don't want it to come off as protein supplements are a gateway drug of sorts. Other than that, the book was great, although the suicide attempt at the end seemed a little sudden and out of left field. Good read though.
ewyatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mick Johnson has been raised to be a football star. His dad, a player who washed out once he was drafted into the NFL, has been teaching Mick about the game since he could walk. As Mick enters high school, he works to make the varsity team. When his efforts to try to win a big game come up just a yard short and his is told he just needs more strength, he starts to explore ways beyond just working out to get him bigger, stronger, and faster. Soon he is experimenting with steriods, excelling on the field, and dealing with roid rage and depression. It was hard for me to keep reading a couple times because I knew the choices Mick was making were going to take him to a bad place. It was an interesting look at the pressures on some athletes.
James-JJ More than 1 year ago
Gym Candy is by far my favorite book by far. It is my favorite genre which is sports-fiction. Carl Deuker's books are so different from the other same types of books that other authors write. Carl's ways of describing and picturing things are so engaging and descriptive. He puts the reader in the eyes of the protagonist. Carl Deuker's strongest element implemented into his novels is for sure imagery. An example of this is found on page seventy-eight. "I watched the ball into my hands, squared my shoulders, and turned upfield, my eyes on the end zone. I thought I'd make it, even as I saw their safety close on me. I lowered my shoulder and hit him at the five. He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me down, but not before I'd fallen forward two more yards. Fourth and goal from the three-yard line." I would definitely recommend this novel to people, whether they like sports-fiction novels or not. Even if you do not like the football aspect of the story, there are many more other parts of it to enjoy. You can enjoy the high school life of Mick Johnson as it is very intriguing as well. If you are looking for a sports-fiction novel to read, this is the book for you. This is my first novel by Carl Deuker, but certainly not the last.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story everyone should read. Stayed up all night to finish...hard to put down. Great insight on the pressures high school athletes face.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dum dum duuuuum
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is going off
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pants at her workout and walks back.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Has her gym at result 22 now! Same book, but barnes and noble just switched it to a different result. Just in case any of you forget, the book is titled bass gym! But i call it Destiny Gym, the gym of all types, and leader is pokemon girl, the winning beauty! Im looking for challengers in pokemon black and white or pokemon heartgold and soulsilver! For i have the games white and soulsilver! If any of you think you wanna take a challenge, just leave me at my gym page the game you will challenge me in, trainer name in that game, friend code, and thats all! You may choose to switch your team around before you battle me, but i will still be hard to beat! This message is from pokemon girl!