Save Steve

HarperTeen. Sept. 2020. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062876270.
Gr 9 Up–Cam and his unrequited crush Kaia have one thing in common: they’re both activists. They’re always trying to save wetlands or sharks in captivity, and Steve is a vegetarian feminist who idolizes Michelle Obama. Not knowing Kaia has a boyfriend, Cam goes to a party, accidentally revealing his crush to Kaia’s boyfriend Steve, who acts like a jerk. Cam learns that Steve has cancer and his family is struggling to pay the medical bills. In hopes of winning Kaia over, Cam decides to help Kaia raise the funds to pay Steve’s medical bills. Steve is well aware of Cam’s motives, and decides to make Cam’s life a living hell by hacking into the website and signing Cam up for activities like being rolled around in a giant sphere, wearing a bee beard, and performing in the school’s variety show. This book is packed with humor, though at times some of the stunts characters pull feel unrealistic, such as trying to dive into a shark tank. At first, Steve is clearly the jerk, but every character is well developed and has their complexities: Kaia wants to break up with Steve, but doesn’t want to break up with the boy who has cancer, and Cam becomes increasingly desperate to separate the two. Hendriks wraps up her novel with an unexpected ending that resolves the romantic plots, but leaves other elements open-ended. Kaia is Latina and Cam and Steve are both white.
VERDICT Best suited for collections that are looking to add contemporary novels with outlandish humor.

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