The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
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 Details

TitleThe Field Guide to the North American Teenager
Author
ReleaseJan 8th, 2019
PublisherBalzer + Bray
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager Review

  • Hollis
    January 1, 1970
    Half stars, half stars! Is it really so much to ask?All his life, Norris could count on his ability to strike up a conversation with anyone -- French or English speaker, black or white -- based on this sigil. Hockey was a third language back in Montreal. Where they were headed now, it would apparently only be a third eye in the middle of his forehead. THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER is a book that won me over right from page one. And that's not just because our protagonist is a Ha Half stars, half stars! Is it really so much to ask?All his life, Norris could count on his ability to strike up a conversation with anyone -- French or English speaker, black or white -- based on this sigil. Hockey was a third language back in Montreal. Where they were headed now, it would apparently only be a third eye in the middle of his forehead. THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER is a book that won me over right from page one. And that's not just because our protagonist is a Habs fan. Truly. I swear. But it didn't hurt."What is that C on your shirt there, son? Colorado?"" No .""Hmm, well, I know that's not the Carolina Panthers. Not Charlotte, is it? What do you call 'em, the Charlotte Hornets? Is that what the H is?""Actually, sir, the C is for cock--"" Canadiens! "Experiencing a (French) Canadian's relocation, and adjustment, to Texas and all that entails -- heat, lack of hockey, heat -- was hilarious because Norris is one snarky mf'er. To the point that it gets him into trouble, alienates peers, and gets him into even more trouble. But it also lands him some friends. Friends who want to play hockey with him, friends who help him navigate the weird world of high school dating, and more. When the bell rang, Meredith was the first one to stand up, throwing Norris a withering stare that said 'don't ever sit here again,' which meant that Norris might now have to become the squad's first male cheerleader just to spite her.Philippe's story isn't without its frustrations because while Norris is oblivious to some bits of his own reality, the reader isn't. But I don't think that's the character's fault and nor is it a symptom of being YA. That said, I did find I enjoyed the first half of the story more than the latter half, and that isn't just because of the drama or the ending, though there were some elements I enjoyed throughout. Namely the two friends that Norris picks up in his new Texas life. Liam and Maddie were both, individually, fantastic. So was Norris' mum. Norris isn't a perfect character -- he's sarcastic and selfish and judgmental and a little bit of a Mean Girl (you'll understand if you read it).. and he's called out on all of it; some right away, in the moment, and the rest by the end. I thought there was some good resolution in the wrap-up but I also think some things were rushed through, too. But, overall, we had some truly great characters and some seriously laugh out loud moments; all that and #ownvoices to boot. "Shouldn't you say 'the B-word' instead of 'bitch'? I thought Canadians were supposed to be polite?""Yes, we're all overly polite, forage for berries in the summers, and craft simple wooden objects of great beauty around the fire at night."I will definitely read this author again.3.5 stars** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
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  • Suzanne
    January 1, 1970
    Cute coming of age read. This is one of those books that you begin and think it will be a slow read but actually gains momentum as it continues and ends with a strong finish. I grew up in a small town in Tennessee with two French Canadian parents so the description of this book really appealed to me. However, I have been out of high school for a long time so things have changed immensely so I did not expect to have a relatable to the characters reading experience, which I did not have but it was Cute coming of age read. This is one of those books that you begin and think it will be a slow read but actually gains momentum as it continues and ends with a strong finish. I grew up in a small town in Tennessee with two French Canadian parents so the description of this book really appealed to me. However, I have been out of high school for a long time so things have changed immensely so I did not expect to have a relatable to the characters reading experience, which I did not have but it was a cute story with some humor (Aarti’s dad being a big Harry Potter fan especially). I have been reading some big fantasy books lately so it this book was exactly what I was looking for: a quick read that is not too intense (though Liam’s past was). Big hockey fan here so I got more excited than I care to admit when I read P.K. Subban’s name. My quick and simple overall: a quick cute coming of age story when you don’t want too intense or too long of read.
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    Talk about an unlikable male character! I loved it. I loved the script flip here, turning what is usually reserved for (white) girls to be -- unlikable -- and allowing a black male character to be that inside. And while Norris is really off putting and, at times, a downright bully, his story also elicits sympathy from the reader: he's been pulled from everything he's known in Canada to Austin, Texas, where he stands out because of his French Canadian background and, well, being black. Rather tha Talk about an unlikable male character! I loved it. I loved the script flip here, turning what is usually reserved for (white) girls to be -- unlikable -- and allowing a black male character to be that inside. And while Norris is really off putting and, at times, a downright bully, his story also elicits sympathy from the reader: he's been pulled from everything he's known in Canada to Austin, Texas, where he stands out because of his French Canadian background and, well, being black. Rather than lean into this new life, Norris chooses to step outside and be an observer, rather than participant, and it makes him frustrating because he plays everyone he encounters. It's a game to him, rather than his reality. This is a funny book about being a fish out of water and not even remotely wanting to wade back in. Philippe's writing is funny and Norris's voice is authentically teen: he's not too smart or too savvy, but instead, he's real. And that reality? Flawed, flawed, flawed. The comp I saw to this one was WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI and that's actually pretty good. Also, this book wins for best YA dedication in a long, long time: https://twitter.com/veronikellymars/s...
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  • Kate Olson
    January 1, 1970
    An awkward and reluctant Black high school transplant to Austin, TX from Montreal, Norris Kaplan may just be one of my favorite male YA characters yet. He's awkward as can be, snarky as a defense mechanism, and not at all buying into the American high school experience. Austin is NOT his hockey-obsessed hometown and he deeply resents his divorced linguistics professor mom for dragging him into the H-O-T and ridiculous world of sun, Longhorns, and burnt orange.This novel addresses race, class, se An awkward and reluctant Black high school transplant to Austin, TX from Montreal, Norris Kaplan may just be one of my favorite male YA characters yet. He's awkward as can be, snarky as a defense mechanism, and not at all buying into the American high school experience. Austin is NOT his hockey-obsessed hometown and he deeply resents his divorced linguistics professor mom for dragging him into the H-O-T and ridiculous world of sun, Longhorns, and burnt orange.This novel addresses race, class, sexuality and all sorts of high school stereotypes (cheerleaders! jocks!) head-on while simultaneously being entertaining and endearing. Norris is the child of Haitian immigrants (to Canada - also the author's background), and he incorporates that viewpoint into so much of what he narrates. I don't know if I love Norris so much because he is just as awkward as I was in high school, but he grabbed my heart from page 1.Highly recommend to readers who can see behind the quippy comebacks to the nervous boy behind them. Recommended for high school library purchase as well!
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  • Samantha (WLABB)
    January 1, 1970
    What happens when you take a hockey loving, black, French-Canadian boy and transplant him in Texas? You get a hilarious tale filled with some teen angst, hijinks, and even some personal growth.• Pro: This book was hilarious! I love snark and sarcasm, and Norris spoke both fluently. I laughed so much and so often, and that is always a welcomed perk. • Pro: The characters Philippe created to be part of Norris' circle was interesting and a lot more complex than Norris expected them to be. I really What happens when you take a hockey loving, black, French-Canadian boy and transplant him in Texas? You get a hilarious tale filled with some teen angst, hijinks, and even some personal growth.• Pro: This book was hilarious! I love snark and sarcasm, and Norris spoke both fluently. I laughed so much and so often, and that is always a welcomed perk. • Pro: The characters Philippe created to be part of Norris' circle was interesting and a lot more complex than Norris expected them to be. I really enjoyed getting to know them beyond their labels. • Pro: And speaking of labels, Norris committed the ultimate crime by immediately placing every person he met in a "group", but what I enjoyed, was seeing him realize that each person was an individual, who went beyond the label, and it was an important turning point, when he started seeing them as more than a single term. • Pro: The relationship between Norris and his mom was kind of special. They acted as team, yet his mother never played the role of friend, and always kept the appropriate parent-child balance in place.• Con: Not going to lie, the ending was frustrating! Yes, it was realistic, but I would have liked a jump ahead, or maybe we will get a Field Guide Volume 2, because I really would like to see how the rest of high school went for Norris. • Pro: I have been seeing a lot of people call Norris unlikable, but I liked him. He was a little bit jaded, angsty, and thought he knew it all, but I empathized with his situation. I did get to see glimpses of the Norris, who hid under all the cynicism, and he did experience growth by the end of the book, both positive things. I thought he was very real too. I worked in a high school for 12 years, and I definitely met a few Norrises over the course of my career. • Pro: I adored the new friendships Norris made. Both Maddie and Liam stood out. They were delightful for very different reasons, but mostly because they offered something real to Norris and didn't allow him to get away with anything. A real friend keeps you in check. Overall: A humorous look at high school through the lens of a newcomer featuring great banter, friendship, and hockey.*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS
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  • Cassandra {semi-hiatus}
    January 1, 1970
    Perfect read to start the new year! Norris was such an utter smartass but I loved him regardless. Every witty quip, every side character, and every hysterical Norris-ism... perfect. This book was an amazing debut; I can’t wait to see what the author produces in the future.Full review to come!
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    * review of an advanced reader copy courtesy of the publisherHaitian Harriet the Spy meets television sitcom in this young adult novel about a black French Canadian trying to survive in a Texas high school. Norris Kaplan, the book's wry protagonist, has his doubts about relocating to Austin, Texas before he and his professor mother even step foot off the plane into the 104 degree sweat inducing weather. His misgivings come true in the first few days of school when his big mouth lands him on the * review of an advanced reader copy courtesy of the publisherHaitian Harriet the Spy meets television sitcom in this young adult novel about a black French Canadian trying to survive in a Texas high school. Norris Kaplan, the book's wry protagonist, has his doubts about relocating to Austin, Texas before he and his professor mother even step foot off the plane into the 104 degree sweat inducing weather. His misgivings come true in the first few days of school when his big mouth lands him on the wrong side of his new school's jock crowd. But, as time progresses, he manages to build a bit of a social network, becomes gainfully employed, starts a hockey team, and might even have a girlfriend. Norris records his opinionated observations about his new surroundings and classmates in a small notebook. And, just like the aforementioned Harriet, this notebook, causes hurt feelings on the very people he most cares about.This teen novel was an enjoyable read. That being said, actual teenagers are definitely not as witty and clever in their banter as these kids. The dialogue reads as though scripted by the writers for The Golden Girls or Seinfeld. (I could have really used some script writers in high school myself. Might have improved my social status.) Despite the unbelievably factor, Ben Philippe's Field Guide is worthy of a read.
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  • Kelli Gleiner
    January 1, 1970
    Norris is the sort of boy I’d like in high school: snarky, uninterested in the “cool kids,” and smart. As is the case with so many people I’ve known, he can’t turn off the smart-ass to see who his real friends are. I can’t say that I liked how “prettily” the book wrapped up, but I enjoyed meeting Norris and watching him grow throughout the book.His struggles/coming to terms with his dad was the strongest part of the book, in my opinion, and could have read more of that.
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  • Jennie Shaw
    January 1, 1970
    I can't remember the last time I laughed my way through an entire book. Not just in the beginning, with humour petering out by the halfway point. Norris's pitch-perfect snark had me laughing my face off and while I could've flown through THE FIELD GUIDE, I didn't want to. It really is a rare reading experience to get end my day with a bout of laughter (this makes me sound kind of terrible because Norris really does have a sharp tongue and that's what made me laugh, but I like snark so) and I wan I can't remember the last time I laughed my way through an entire book. Not just in the beginning, with humour petering out by the halfway point. Norris's pitch-perfect snark had me laughing my face off and while I could've flown through THE FIELD GUIDE, I didn't want to. It really is a rare reading experience to get end my day with a bout of laughter (this makes me sound kind of terrible because Norris really does have a sharp tongue and that's what made me laugh, but I like snark so) and I wanted to stretch it out. Also it had a coming-of-age-vibe, an ownvoices perspective, and the best dialogue I've ever read.The. Actual. Best. Dialogue. I've. Ever. Read. I have no idea how I'm going to paint this cover mani but I totally need to because every single person on the planet needs to read THE FIELD GUIDE and i need to scream about it more. Wish me luck. There's lots of words in this title in addition to the notebook set on top of a detailed background and I'm probably going to need some wine for this one. Huge thanks to HCC Frenzy for an ARC!
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  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    4.5* I was sent an ARC in exchange for honest reviewI have a full video review : https://youtu.be/jjf75K0Cf-E
  • Ivy
    January 1, 1970
    This cover is incredible, so hopefully the book will be as good.
  • Rashika (is tired)
    January 1, 1970
    Actual Rating 3.5I don’t think this book has actually been pitched this way but when I finished the book, I couldn’t help but think of Mean Girls. The Field Guide to a North American Teenager, while not a perfect fit, read to me, like a gender-swapped Mean Girls.Norris Kaplan is the new kid in town. Although he feels incredibly out of place, he does somehow immediately capture the attention of several people who are taken in by his snark. He writes in his journal, trying to categorize and group Actual Rating 3.5I don’t think this book has actually been pitched this way but when I finished the book, I couldn’t help but think of Mean Girls. The Field Guide to a North American Teenager, while not a perfect fit, read to me, like a gender-swapped Mean Girls.Norris Kaplan is the new kid in town. Although he feels incredibly out of place, he does somehow immediately capture the attention of several people who are taken in by his snark. He writes in his journal, trying to categorize and group every individual and HS trope-y student he comes across in an attempt to other them and to distance himself. Somehow though, he finds himself mingling with the very cheerleaders and the jocks he loves to snark about. Combined with a new, cute love interest he is doing his best to court, Norris Kaplan, against all odds, ends up fitting into his new high school and having a nice, trope-y high school existence. He also ends up doing several jerk-y things that hurt almost everyone he likes.Does that not sound pretty much like Mean Girls??? If it doesn’t, it is probably because I suck at writing words but the book itself does have that distinct feel, IMHO.ANYWAY. SO. YES. This book is such a feel-good contemporary and I cannot. I love that we have a black mc navigating the trope-y high school experience in this book and I LOVE Philippe’s twist on those tropes. I especially love the discussion in this book about how being black paints that trope-y experience. This is such a light hearted book but those discussions are still so important and OMG, there is this one scene towards the end that was so beautifully written. I want everyone to read the book so we can scream together about that scene.Norris, by virtue of occasionally being a self-obsessed dick, isn’t the most likable character in the world. BUT THATS OKAY. He experiences growth and development. He learns from his mistakes and has moments of reflection. Norris is also funny as fuck. Exhibit A:“You’re very rude for a basic white girl.”I want that quote on a t-shirt. I do feel like it is important for me to point out that it seemed like some details regarding the LI (who is Indian) were half-assed? For example, when the Norris enters Aarti’s (the LI’s) house, he first says that “some Hindi language on the television or on the radio.” Hindi is a language? And not all Indian languages are related to Hindi? There are some that don’t share the same alphabet and are also not related to the larger Indo-European language group. Also, Aarti’s family is from West Bengal but they speak Hindi rather than Bengali?? NOT THAT THIS ISN’T POSSIBLE and doesn’t happen but this seemed less intentional and more just a general overlooking of basics. Another weird thing was when Norris was over at the Puri’s, Mrs. Puri assumed that Norris had never heard of Chicken Tikka Masala even though every Indian person knows that that is the one thing every non-Indian associates with Indian cuisine. Also, let me be perfectly clear. I don’t think these issues are a reason to not read the book or even make it inherently problematic (although a little more research would have been nice.) I just wanted to set the record straight so when people do read they book, and they 100% should, they are aware of these things.MOVING ON. I also wish that this book had been a little less about Norris and involved all the secondary characters a bit more because they are all fabulous. I would have loved more conversations between Norris and his mom, Norris and his new friends, Norris and Eric, etc. No book is perfect though and even with its imperfections, The Field Guide to a North American Teenager is an absolute delight to read. It is smart, snarky and flips so many tropes on their head which allows the reader to experience them in a new way. While some might claim that by being trope-y, a book will be inherently unoriginal but to those, I say, PICK UP A BOOK THAT EMPLOYS tropes well because The Field Guide to a North American Teenageris a perfect example of a book that is wonderfully trope-y and wonderfully original. Please read it.
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  • Christine (Padfoot's Library)
    January 1, 1970
    From the epigraph alone, I could tell that I was going to enjoy Philippe's writing. We follow Norris, who is a French Canadian teen, who recently moves to Texas because his mom got a new teaching gig. He is at first determined to hate it, and spends him time thinking about going back to Canada where he can be reunited with his best friend, Eric. The guidance counselor gives Norris a notebook and he treats it like a little guide book where he writes down his findings about various highschool trop From the epigraph alone, I could tell that I was going to enjoy Philippe's writing. We follow Norris, who is a French Canadian teen, who recently moves to Texas because his mom got a new teaching gig. He is at first determined to hate it, and spends him time thinking about going back to Canada where he can be reunited with his best friend, Eric. The guidance counselor gives Norris a notebook and he treats it like a little guide book where he writes down his findings about various highschool tropes and stereotypes. He slowly finds himself making unlikely friendships with Liam, Madison, and Aarti, and he even starts up a little hockey team! I have to admit that I found Norris kind of insufferable at times, but I liked that he was able to demonstrate real growth in the text. My favorite character was definitely Maddie. She is just an all-around good human being. There are great Canadian references that I really appreciated, and most of all, this book reminds us of the very important rule of not to judge things and people solely based on appearance, because they will surprise you, and sometimes in the best way possible. This was a great debut from Philippe, and I can't wait to see what he writes next.Disclaimer: *I received a copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review.* #IndigoEmployee
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  • Maša
    January 1, 1970
    A black French Canadian moves to Texas. He is homesick, lonely, and determined to stay apart from everything and everyone. When he's not mouthing off, he chronicles his cruel thoughts in a small notebook he likes to carry around. This book was a very nice surprise. I read it because I've seen the dedication page, and it proved to be just as witty and clever. It's full of teenage angst, fuck-ups, and learning moments. It's a pretty lighthearted book, even though it doesn't shy away from life's da A black French Canadian moves to Texas. He is homesick, lonely, and determined to stay apart from everything and everyone. When he's not mouthing off, he chronicles his cruel thoughts in a small notebook he likes to carry around. This book was a very nice surprise. I read it because I've seen the dedication page, and it proved to be just as witty and clever. It's full of teenage angst, fuck-ups, and learning moments. It's a pretty lighthearted book, even though it doesn't shy away from life's darker moments (divorce, suicide, police brutality..). I don't know if the majority of actual teenagers can express themselves as well as the ones in the book do, but all in all, it was a nice read, and set a new standard for YA, at least for me!
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  • Arden Belrose
    January 1, 1970
    No book has made me laugh out loud this much since I read Three Men In A Boat! I LOVED Norris' brand of sarcastic, exaggerated, witty and tongue-in-cheek humor. And he's not afraid to direct it at himself, too. The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is a contemporary, coming-of-age story in the POV of a French-Canadian teenager who also happens to be black. Yeah, that's a lot going on there. Hurl in a cross-country move to an unforgiving climate, being the New Guy in a giant box filled No book has made me laugh out loud this much since I read Three Men In A Boat! I LOVED Norris' brand of sarcastic, exaggerated, witty and tongue-in-cheek humor. And he's not afraid to direct it at himself, too. The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is a contemporary, coming-of-age story in the POV of a French-Canadian teenager who also happens to be black. Yeah, that's a lot going on there. Hurl in a cross-country move to an unforgiving climate, being the New Guy in a giant box filled with not-yet-mature-and-still-finding-their-identities teenagers and you've got a rollicking read! "What sick wagon of explorers stopped here and went: Guys, the surface of the sun is looking a little out of reach for the horses; let's just settle here.""Nous sommes thrilled...happy? Joyeux? Joyeux! Joyeux de te recevoir ici," she said pointing both indexes downward. "Ici, Anderson High!" Norris widened his eyes. Just what fresh hell was this?The book touches on many topics: race, black youth, police brutality, sexuality and depression. But lightly. This is in the end still a book about growing up, stereotypes and facing your worst enemy: yourself. As the author, Ben Philippe, set out to write, The Field Guide to the North American Teenager shows that Norris Kaplan, despite all his labels, is just a regular teenager with issues. We all mess things up. It's what you do with the mess that matters.The other characters were just as flawed and especially loved the bromance between Norris and Liam. Judith, Norris's mother, was also a fiercely loving and intelligent woman. ...the fact that even though he was bilingual, his brain still defaulted to French, his first of the two languages, when counting or doing math.(Me! I do that, too!)The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is a refreshingly true-to-life story(that ending was frustrating but realistic), it also proves that stereotypes can be totally off the mark, and it can also have some truth to it. I could not get enough of the jokes and hilarity. It reminds me of Paper Towns(minus the mystery but with double—nay, TRIPLE, the funniness) and The Princess Diaries. I cannot wait to read more of Philippe's works and hopefully, more of Norris Kaplan!
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  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    (Disclaimer: I received this free book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)I flat out adored this book. From page one I knew I wouldn't go to bed until I finished reading it because Norris is spectacular. He's a character I instantly loved. Transplanted from snowy Canada into the depths of warmth in Austin, Texas, Norris hates just about everything. And I feel like Norris spoke to me. He spoke to me in the ways he mouths off to bullies, his quick intelle (Disclaimer: I received this free book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)I flat out adored this book. From page one I knew I wouldn't go to bed until I finished reading it because Norris is spectacular. He's a character I instantly loved. Transplanted from snowy Canada into the depths of warmth in Austin, Texas, Norris hates just about everything. And I feel like Norris spoke to me. He spoke to me in the ways he mouths off to bullies, his quick intellect, and the way he hides his pain. Not only that, but this book has real depth. It's not just a book about his mistakes, and how he sees beyond his snap judgements. Norris encounters casual racism and the dangers of his actions as a black man.full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
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  • Rachel Strolle
    January 1, 1970
    i really enjoyed this one
  • Ciera
    January 1, 1970
    "Everyone's a dick by someone else's standards." The experience of reading this book was like watching a teen romcom but from the POV of a snarky, Canadian teen boy. Which, as a POV I don't often have access to, was great. Norris was kind of a dick, but not in a fully unlikable sense. In fact, he's so amusing that it's hard to dislike him and, once you get past that, he was so realistic and relatable. People aren't nice all the time, certainly not in their own heads or journals. People are judg "Everyone's a dick by someone else's standards." The experience of reading this book was like watching a teen romcom but from the POV of a snarky, Canadian teen boy. Which, as a POV I don't often have access to, was great. Norris was kind of a dick, but not in a fully unlikable sense. In fact, he's so amusing that it's hard to dislike him and, once you get past that, he was so realistic and relatable. People aren't nice all the time, certainly not in their own heads or journals. People are judgy and rude and easily irritated--yes, even the nicest people. Following Norris as a new student in a new country full of preconceived notions about everyone--a defense mechanism that we all have--made me question myself and my own snark and whether or not I considered other people's feelings enough before I speak. As I get older, I've gotten much better at it and while my very first thought may be a judgment, I usually self-correct more often than not. I saw a Tumblr post once where someone quoted their mom who said something like "your first thought it was society has programmed you to think, your second is who you actually are" and it was actually helpful advice for realizing that I wasn't a shitty person. Norris, too, essentially realizes this over the course of the book. What was fun about this book, besides Norris's commentary and the clever chapter headings that read like the Burn Book from Mean Girls and took me back to my high school days--hard, were all of the stereotypical roles--cheerleaders, jocks, silent loners, etc--that aren't so much turned on their heads as made human. Sure, cheerleaders have some stereotypes that turn out to be true, but so does every other group. What Philippe did, and did well, was show the actual human beings behind the tropes and stereotypes. While I liked Norris, he was almost overshadowed by how great all of the other characters were--Maddie, Liam, Aarti, even Patrick, all of them felt real and like people I would love or hate (I loved all of them. They are all my friends now.) because they were actual people and not caricatures like so many high school-aged characters in books, not just YA, seem to become. The ending was well done for the type of book this was. There is no picture-perfect, wrapped-in-a-bow type of ending, for which I was sincerely glad. If this book was a romcom, it's a completely self-aware, using-tropes-to-its-advantage type of YA romcom, which is to say that it was fun and genuinely funny while not shying away from things like police brutality or the reality of immigrants--all of which were realities in Norris' life. I can't say that Norris and I would ever be friends but I get him completely and I'm rooting for him.
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  • Heather Pearson
    January 1, 1970
    Well worth the read. I'd read about 10% of the book when I decided that it just wasn't working for me. I was going to stop, but then considered, what would a tell a teen who asked me about it at work one day. I'd better read a little more, give it a fair chance at least.I tried to put myself in a more 'teen' frame of mind and plunged back in. I already liked Norris. He was kind of cool, but feeling out of place with the move to Austin from Montreal. I had moved overseas at the same age and found Well worth the read. I'd read about 10% of the book when I decided that it just wasn't working for me. I was going to stop, but then considered, what would a tell a teen who asked me about it at work one day. I'd better read a little more, give it a fair chance at least.I tried to put myself in a more 'teen' frame of mind and plunged back in. I already liked Norris. He was kind of cool, but feeling out of place with the move to Austin from Montreal. I had moved overseas at the same age and found myself a visible minority at my new school. I couldn't fault his mom for moving the two of them, university positions aren't easy to come by and this job was a perfect fit for her knowledge base.Back to the high school. Sure, it was larger than Norris's previous one, but essentially the same just with a larger assortment of students. He'd soon find a way to fit in. The cheerleaders, jocks, geeks, loners and more were all there. Which was he. It was a new school, a new start, he could have his pick.Writing in the journal that was given to him the first day of school became his coping method and sounding board. He wrote down first impressions and observations at first. It quickly became his 'thing'. The novel itself is written as though a field guide. At the start of each chapter is heading such as: observable characteristics, attire, habitat, preening habits etc. At first, I only glanced at these not realizing that I was missing out on a valuable part of the book's approach. When I started reading them more closely, the concept of field guide became clear.I'm glad I stuck with this book as I found myself really enjoying it. The family dynamics between Norris and his parents seemed so real, both the good and the bad. The inviting atmosphere at his part time job should have been a signal to Norris and I was waiting for him to get it. Now when I'm at work and a teen asks me about this book, I'll be prepared and will gladly recommend it.I received and advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.#IndigoEmployee
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  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    4.5Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!The Field Guide to the North American Teenager was not on my radar until it ended up on my doorstep thanks to Harper Collins Canada. This delightfully honest and quirky debut tells the story of a young black French-Canadian, who is forced to transplant to Austin, Texas. Recognizing that Texas doesn't appreciate the important things in life, i.e. hockey, Norris is forced to figure out how he, a Canadian, must fit in with the "American Teenag 4.5Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!The Field Guide to the North American Teenager was not on my radar until it ended up on my doorstep thanks to Harper Collins Canada. This delightfully honest and quirky debut tells the story of a young black French-Canadian, who is forced to transplant to Austin, Texas. Recognizing that Texas doesn't appreciate the important things in life, i.e. hockey, Norris is forced to figure out how he, a Canadian, must fit in with the "American Teenager."This book is hilarious! I found myself laughing out loud on numerous occasions because Norris is just such a funny character. I loved him so much, and I love how he was constantly being called out on being a bit of a drama queen (mainly by his friends back home). Norris is one of those protagonists who is so intelligent and funny, but lacks confidence in himself to not create drama around him. It's a character trait I found myself weirdly connecting with. Norris is one of those characters who grows so much from start to finish that even with his emo exterior, you're still rooting for him to get his head out of his butt.I also want to praise the side characters in this story, my favourite being Judith, Norris' mom. She does an absolutely amazing and hilarious thing at the beginning of this story that even now I still think about and laugh at. Eric, Norris' friend from Montreal, also had me in stitches any time he and Norris were having IMs back and forth. I loved Maddie and her honesty, and like Norris, I think grows wonderfully in this story. Even Aarti , who I had a bit of a hard time with throughout the story, grew on me. The cast of characters in this story are funny and flawed, making them feel very believable as teenagers.I loved my time with The Field Guide to the North American Teenager. It was such a funny, honest little romp that made me laugh and smile during my time reading it. Ben Phillippe writes with such charm and sensitivity, making moments of both darkness and light in this novel feel so raw and truthful. This is a wonderful debut novel that I hope many readers will pick up and enjoy!
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  • Tiff at Mostly YA Lit
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. A unique voice, a strong story thread, and a well-developed cast of characters made The Field Guide to a North American Teenager a fun but not fluffy read. Main character Norris Kaplan is forced to leave his hometown of Montreal (a tragedy for a hockey fan) to move to the boiling hot city of Austin when his mother gets a tenure-track position. Norris' wise-cracking mouth and even more sardonic mind are challenged right away by his entry as a student at Anderson High School, a huge pla 3.5 stars. A unique voice, a strong story thread, and a well-developed cast of characters made The Field Guide to a North American Teenager a fun but not fluffy read. Main character Norris Kaplan is forced to leave his hometown of Montreal (a tragedy for a hockey fan) to move to the boiling hot city of Austin when his mother gets a tenure-track position. Norris' wise-cracking mouth and even more sardonic mind are challenged right away by his entry as a student at Anderson High School, a huge place that seems like every stereotype he's ever seen in a movie about American high schools. It's got the big, dumb, jocky football team and the people who are scared of/worship them; the b-tchy cheerleaders; the drunken house parties, the weirdos and freaks, and, oh yeah, Aarti Puri, the beautiful manic pixie dream girl who catches his eye for being "different." To cope, the high school guidance counselor suggests Norris keep a journal. Instead, he starts documenting all of these "specimens" as part of his field guide while wandering the halls during his lunch and free period. To complicate matters, though, Norris quickly realizes that there are people behind the labels, especially Maddie, the "beta" cheerleader who is as smart as Norris is, and helps him get a job at her dad's barbecue restaurant. While there, Norris and Maddie strike a mutually beneficial deal that will help him land Aarti's heart. Yes, this is a sorta Cyrano de Bergerac book, but it's also a book by an author who is definitely aware of what it means to be a black French Canadian in Texas, and how labels can hurt and shape us. Norris felt maybe a tad too quippy to be a high schooler, but other than that, his lack of understanding and self-awareness - combined with too much of a chip on his shoulder, made him the perfect unlikeable character to go on this journey with. He's just saucy enough that he's funny, but also just biting enough that you cringe when he goes too far. I also appreciated that the author, Ben Philippe, gave us a lot of his family life because it goes a long way to making him tolerable when we see where he's from. His mother is an amazing Haitian firecracker of a woman, and his absentee father is, well, not there, but also there enough in his mind that we know that Norris cares about him. For me, where the book really sang was in the details of the new places and people Norris meets - whether at the Bone Yard - Maddie's family's barbecue restaurant that also delivers key lime pie - or at the weird non-skating rink where Norris teaches his friend Liam to skate. Field Guide also really worked in developing Norris' slow appreciation of the roundness of the people he encounters. Maddie is a gem of a human being, ambitious, funny, and smart; while his new friend Liam is weird and zen and wise in just the right way. I also loved that Norris' best friend back home, Eric, still plays a big part in his life even if he's not right there. There's a fullness to the book and to the city of Austin that keeps you from wanting to knock Norris on the back of the head constantly. Where I wish the book had been stronger had been in the humour. Humour is really hard, and I think the jokes could have been funnier. Also, one of my weaknesses is perfect endings, and while I found the ending worked well for the book, it just wasn't the ending I wanted - so that's on me. The Final Word: Overall, The Field Guide to the North American Teenager was a strong YA contemporary, with woke characters who were a little bone-headed, but came together well. It's a very good slice of life book, and I appreciated that while I could kind of guess where it was going, it was still a little unpredictable. Great for anyone who likes quirky contemporaries with a lot of details.
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  • Nakesha Brown
    January 1, 1970
    My Notes on The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben PhilippeNorris has the best comebacks and one liners. Some may see this as rude or snarky but I just think he is clever. Over compensating for his insecurities obviously. This book is very diverse. Norris’ best friend back home is a gay guy named Eric, his love interest is an Indian girl name Aarti and one of his closest friends is Maddie, a white cheerleader. I like that even though the MC is black, the book showed an alternative My Notes on The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben PhilippeNorris has the best comebacks and one liners. Some may see this as rude or snarky but I just think he is clever. Over compensating for his insecurities obviously. This book is very diverse. Norris’ best friend back home is a gay guy named Eric, his love interest is an Indian girl name Aarti and one of his closest friends is Maddie, a white cheerleader. I like that even though the MC is black, the book showed an alternative black reality while still infusing the real America young black teens must navigate.Liam is my favorite character. His sincerity balances out Norris pretense. They fit together perfectly as friends. Overall a very good story. It dealt with a few issues like teenaged drinking but was still a light read which I enjoyed. I also liked the fact that the ending was not the typical ending I was expecting and that was refreshing.
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  • Marloes
    January 1, 1970
    The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is a strong YA contemporary, with woke characters who were a little bone-headed, but came together well. It's a very good slice of life book, and I appreciated that while I could kind of guess where it was going, it was still a little unpredictable. Great for anyone who likes quirky contemporaries with a lot of details.Ben Philippe wrote a strong debut on the stark realities of race with biting comedy in The Field Guide to the North American Teenage The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is a strong YA contemporary, with woke characters who were a little bone-headed, but came together well. It's a very good slice of life book, and I appreciated that while I could kind of guess where it was going, it was still a little unpredictable. Great for anyone who likes quirky contemporaries with a lot of details.Ben Philippe wrote a strong debut on the stark realities of race with biting comedy in The Field Guide to the North American Teenager. Norris is a protagonist that readers will relate to if they also feel misplaced in their own high school.
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  • Mortisha Cassavetes
    January 1, 1970
    I went into this book not knowing anything about what it was about and I am so glad I did. I really enjoyed this book. The story follows Norris, a young black French Canadian, who left Canada with his Mom to live in Austin, Texas. Of course, Norris was not fond of leaving his school and friends but makes a deal with his Mom to give it a try. Between the heat of Texas and Norris' sarcastic undertones, he has problems at first but soon finds friends and even starts to enjoy his new town. Until "IT I went into this book not knowing anything about what it was about and I am so glad I did. I really enjoyed this book. The story follows Norris, a young black French Canadian, who left Canada with his Mom to live in Austin, Texas. Of course, Norris was not fond of leaving his school and friends but makes a deal with his Mom to give it a try. Between the heat of Texas and Norris' sarcastic undertones, he has problems at first but soon finds friends and even starts to enjoy his new town. Until "IT" happens. I do not want to go into the story more as to not spoil it. You must read the book to find out what the "IT" is. I highly recommend it.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    This was a really cute novel. Nothing exactly exciting happened but nevertheless it still kept me wanting to read more. I probably wouldn’t read it again but hey, it was nice to pass the time reading it.
  • Shauna Yusko
    January 1, 1970
    I think this is the book that I was so hoping to find for 2018’s seminars. So early in the year for 5 stars, but will probably adjust it up. I love everything about this narrator and his story.
  • Kim Small
    January 1, 1970
    Ben is such a great new addition to the YA world. This is a terrific debut. Norris leaps off the page right from the start and doesn't falter. I'm looking forward to seeing what Ben comes up with next. I had relatively high hopes for this book and it managed to live up to my expectations.
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  • Annabeth Tyler
    January 1, 1970
    DNF about halfway through. There was just too much questionable content I couldn’t deal with. 😞
  • Crystal
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the voice in this book. Norris is funny, even if obnoxious sometimes. I needed something on the lighter side and this fit the bill.
  • Carli
    January 1, 1970
    ⭐⭐⭐💫/5 for The Field Guide to the North American Teenager. When Norris is forced to move from Montreal to Austin, TX, he is understandably upset. He’s used to being one of only a few black kids in school, but why does Austin have to be so HOT? And, given his lack of social skills, fitting in at a new high school will not come easily. He finds some unlikely allies, some very likely enemies, and I really enjoyed this save for one huge cliche (that I will not spoil). Overall, an entertaining (and v ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫/5 for The Field Guide to the North American Teenager. When Norris is forced to move from Montreal to Austin, TX, he is understandably upset. He’s used to being one of only a few black kids in school, but why does Austin have to be so HOT? And, given his lack of social skills, fitting in at a new high school will not come easily. He finds some unlikely allies, some very likely enemies, and I really enjoyed this save for one huge cliche (that I will not spoil). Overall, an entertaining (and very funny) choice for high school readers. Recommended for grades 9+.
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