I'm a girl who has basically no interest in sports beyond the fact that men occasionally look good while playing them. I think football is stupid and see no reason why professional players should be paid as much as they are to run around on a field chasing after a ball while inebriated fans scream drunken slurs at the players and at each other. This book was not intended for me, and there is absolutely no plausible explanation for why I have fallen in love with Gym Candy.
Everything about Gym Candy was just so real. The emotions Mick went through were heartbreaking—from what Mick felt as a child with his father pressuring him to be the best from the minute he could walk to the end of the book, when Mick finally couldn't handle anything anymore. The characters were real: the worried mother, the father who lost it all living vicariously through his son, the girl and the relationship that could've been, the best friend who didn't want to see what was happening, the asshole coach with stupid rules such as "freshman can't be first string." Even I got lost in the football scenes, and to this day, just about everything I understand about football comes from reading this book.
I know a lot of people didn't like the ambiguous ending, but personally, it worked for me. The steroids thoroughly destroyed Mick's life, to the point where he says, "I don't know if I can stand being ordinary." He feels more like Drew betrayed him instead of saving him. Simply knowing that once he gets out of rehab he can be hooked up with steroids again within an hour makes his heart race. Mick even says that before he never understood why professional players would get caught up in steroids, getting two or three or four substance abuse violations, losing all the respect they had and even their careers. To him, it was "unbelievably stupid." But after all of this? "They don't seem so stupid now."
Gym Candy was one of those books that just hit home for me.