Title: The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
Author: Ben Philippe
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: January 8, 2018
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.
I really enjoyed this book! It was funny and entertaining.
I was laughing within the first couple of pages of the story. There were lots of references to pop culture, such as Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and Friends, which were subtle but so funny! They weren’t always explained, which made them more exciting when I discovered one, because it was like an inside joke with the book.
I could totally relate to Norris’s experience as a Canadian going to a warm climate and having trouble adjusting to the hot temperatures. Montreal is even colder than Toronto, and though I haven’t ever been to Texas, I can imagine how hot it would be. I love the heat, so I don’t think I would mind, but I wouldn’t like sweating through multiple shirts a day.
Though the story was a lot of fun, it became quite serious towards the end, including a run-in with the police. I would love to see what happens with these characters in a sequel!
What to read next:
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Have you read The Field Guide to the North American Teenager? What did you think of it?