TITLE: The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
AUTHOR: Ben Philippe
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray
TARGET AUDIENCE: Young Adult
Norris Kaplan is clever, cynical, and quite possibly too smart for his own good. A black French Canadian, he knows from watching American sitcoms that those three things don’t bode well when you are moving to Austin, Texas. Plunked into a new high school and sweating a ridiculous amount from the oppressive Texas heat, Norris finds himself cataloging everyone he meets: the Cheerleaders, the Jocks, the Loners, and even the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Making a ton of friends has never been a priority for him, and this way he can at least amuse himself until it’s time to go back to Canada, where he belongs.
Yet, against all odds, those labels soon become actual people to Norris. Be it loner Liam, who makes it his mission to befriend Norris, or Madison the beta cheerleader, who is so nice that it has to be a trap. Not to mention Aarti the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, who might, in fact, be a real love interest in the making. He even starts playing actual hockey with these Texans.
But the night of the prom, Norris screws everything up royally. As he tries to pick up the pieces, he realizes it might be time to stop hiding behind his snarky opinions and start living his life—along with the people who have found their way into his heart.
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is a book I was highly anticipating. And I’m happy to say that I enjoyed it!
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager follows Norris, a black French Canadian who is forced to move to Texas when his mother receives a new job position. It’s a story about accepting life and enjoying everything that comes your way.
This book is honestly super funny. From the very first page, I found myself laughing. Let me tell you, there’s a reason this author’s dedication page has gone viral! Not only are Norris’ inner thoughts hilarious but so are his interactions with other characters. Norris is an extremely judgemental person, but his commentary can be quite funny. It’s that thin line of thoughts that everyone has probably had at some point in their life. Except he actually speaks them, instead of keeping them to himself.
I absolutely adore the two friends he makes in Texas: Liam and Maddie. They look beyond Norris’ faults, and judgy comments. They’re the true definition of friends, and I really enjoyed them throughout the entire book.
The overall story of the book was just ok to me. It was enjoyable and made me laugh. But, not overly memorable. I think parts of the book were written well and had me turning the page. And other parts just seemed kind of rushed and a needed a bit more justification. But these are all things that one can expand on, given the fact that this is a debut novel.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and definitely would recommend – for the humour alone. It definitely is an easy contemporary read that is sure to lift you up. I’ll definitely be checking out Ben Philippe’s future books!
”The Sorting Hat of Anderson High had spoken, and Norris Kaplan was to be a Loner, which was fine by him. Better than Hufflepuff, by all accounts.Favourite Quote
About The Author
Ben Philippe was born in Haiti, raised in Montreal, Qc, Canada, and now resides in New York. He is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers and holds a BA in Sociology from Columbia University. He won the 2013 Tennessee Williams Fiction Contest and his writing has appeared in Observer, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, and others. He still doesn’t have a valid driver’s license.
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Quotes are taken from an ARC and are subject to change