The New David Espinoza
by Fred Aceves
* * * Stars (Pretty good)
David Espinoza is tall and, according to him, freakishly skinny. When a video of him getting slapped while standing shirtless in the guys’ locker room goes viral, David is mortified. The best revenge, he figures, is to never be that skinny, vulnerable guy again. After some research into the training and diet regimens of some internet-famous body builders, David comes up with his own diet plan and joins a gym so he can start his makeover. But after talking to the other guys at the gym (most of who are impressively huge), he discovers that the changes he wants to make are not going to be achievable in the 3 months he has set aside for his transformation. Not without some chemical assistance, anyway. David convinces the gym’s owner Alpha that he’s serious about his goals and talks him into helping him out. Alpha eventually caves and provides both steroids and education about their use. After that, David becomes even more obsessed with his body – checking himself out in the mirror constantly and taking measurements to track the changes as he bulks up. He is so preoccupied that everything else takes a back seat – hanging out with his friends, looking after his sister, saving up for a car, working for his dad. He spends all of his time working out and all of his money on steroids. All of the hard work seems to be paying off, though. As the first day of senior year draws near, David is looking great. He intends to go off the steroids until he learns that he’ll lose all the progress he’s made once he stops taking them. And when his dad finds out what he’s been doing, David finds himself in serious trouble. In the end, David will have to decide what is most important – his body or his life.
David’s preoccupation with his body is alarming, but not unheard of. According to the author’s note at the end of this book, male body image issues are a serious problem, and there’s a lot of pressure for guys to have/achieve/maintain a flawless physique. David suffers from muscle dysmorphia which makes him vulnerable to having a negative body image (thinks he’s too skinny/weak) and obsessed with becoming ripped (muscular/strong). His body image is so off, that sometimes he can’t see what’s really there. While some of the characters get hooked on steroids, this book also delves into the dangers of steroid use.
Reviewed by YA Librarian