The New David Espinoza (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

The author draws from his personal teenage experience to tell this raw fictional story of male body image, steriod use, lies of Hollywood action stars and toxic masculinity.  I was riveted by the main character's pursuit of body building and how it effected his self esteem, academics, finances, and relationships with friends and family. This is a fantastic read for anyone interested in understading the pressures of body image on boys and men in our society. 

— From Kimberly


This own voices story from the acclaimed author of The Closest I’ve Come unflinchingly examines steroid abuse and male body dysmorphia. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Matt De La Peña.

David Espinoza is tired of being messed with. When a video of him getting knocked down by a bully’s slap goes viral at the end of junior year, David vows to use the summer to bulk up— do what it takes to become a man—and wow everyone when school starts again the fall.

Soon David is spending all his time and money at Iron Life, a nearby gym that’s full of bodybuilders. Frustrated with his slow progress, his life eventually becomes all about his muscle gains. As it says on the Iron Life wall, What does not kill me makes me stronger.

As David falls into the dark side of the bodybuilding world, pursuing his ideal body at all costs, he’ll have to grapple with the fact that it could actually cost him everything.

About the Author

Fred Aceves was born in New York but spent most of his youth in Southern California and Tampa, Florida, where he lived in a poor, working class neighborhood like the one described in The Closest I’ve Come. At the age of 21 he started traveling around the world, living in Chicago, New York, the Czech Republic, France, Argentina, Bolivia, and Mexico. Among other jobs, he has worked as a delivery driver, server, cook, car salesman, freelance editor, and teacher of English as a second language. 

Praise For…

“A much-needed novel about steroid addiction from the point of view of a high school boy who’s the victim of bullying.”
— School Library Journal (starred review)

“Stands out through its examination of toxic masculinity, body image, and the dangers of pursuing perfection.”

"Searing and thoughtful."
Kirkus Reviews

“An authentically told story that is both gripping and gut-wrenching.”
Publishers Weekly

“Aceves’ novel addresses harsher details of steroid and muscle-sculpting drugs.”
— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062489883
ISBN-10: 0062489887
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 11th, 2020
Pages: 336
Language: English