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Gym Candy

Authentic look at high school football culture and drug use.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There is peer pressure, parental pressure, drug usage, fights and an attempted suicide in this novel. There are also examples of positive adult influence and involvement, and instances of true friendship.


This novel has fights fueled by 'roid rage, an attempted suicide, and some gun imagery -- blood is described from a gunshot wound. There is also typical violence associated with football -- tackles, bruises, and injuries.


There are some typical high school crushes, but nothing racy.


This novel has mild swearing, but nothing excessive.


Other than the names of specific kids of steroids, this novel is clear of references to consumer products.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There is heavy, addictive steroid use in this novel. Pills and injectables are used.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there are some heavy subjects in this novel, including teen steroid use, suicide, and violence related to drug use. A teen threatens to shoot a friend before turning the gun on himself. Adults take advantage of impressionable teens, putting one on an illegal steroid routine.

What's the story?

Mick's passion has been football since he was a little kid. His father, a former professional football player, has a room with walls dedicated to his high school and college career, and Mick wants to be just like him. He'll do anything to get and keep an edge. When Mick earns a top spot on the varsity football team, he looks to a friendly personal trainer's solution to his problem. Soon Mick finds himself in over his head. Can he ever get back to playing the game fair or will the "gym candy" keep him coming back for more?

Is it any good?


GYM CANDY is a novel for real football fans. Author Carl Deuker does a fantastic job capturing the action from the first down to the final touchdown. The audience will almost be able to smell the sweat and feel the hits through Deuker's vivid writing. Teens will cheer on Mick as he goes after football glory with all that he has in him.

The novel will give both teens and their parents some serious issues to think about as Mick succumbs to both internal and external pressure to perform like an athlete far beyond his years. If readers are looking for an uplifting, sports hero ending, they'll be disappointed. A bit of a downer, the ending is as raw and real as the rest of the novel.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about steroid use. Given the incredible pressure many kids feel to excel in sports at an early age, is the temptation to take steroids understandable? What coping mechanisms do you have to deal with peer and self expectations? Do you think steroid use in sports counts as cheating? Do professional athletes set a good or bad example for teens?

Book details

Author:Carl Deuker
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
Publication date:September 3, 2007
Number of pages:320
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17

This review of Gym Candy was written by

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Teen, 17 years old Written bycalebwedel February 16, 2011
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byRudy Louis October 13, 2010

Great for everyone

It is the best book that i have ever read
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byteshman98 January 4, 2010
i loved it because it was ver
What other families should know
Great messages