My contact at Harper Collins Canada loved Ben Philippe’s The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, so much so that she could not resist sending me an advanced copy of the novel. Her enthusiasm was infectious and I knew I had to read it as soon as I had received it.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemprorary Fiction
Release Date: 8 January 2019
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 loved this novel! It was humorous as well as contemporary and is perfectly suited for its target audience. As someone who has moved to another country, I could understand some of Norris Kaplan’s experience albeit as an older person. While reading Philippe’s story, I could imagine a teenager behaving in the way described in the story – I could not help smiling at the antics as well as the adolescent experience. As I am writing this review, I cannot help but smile as I think about my favourite scenes.
The novel is a perfect read for a teenager. It describes teen relationships and reflects what the current status quo is seen as being in North America. The story has a little romance, as well as describes a young boy’s coming-of-age. The sense of humour scattered in the novel would appeal to both boys and girls. And as an older adult, I enjoyed the snapshot of the current teen experience. In addition, the story is well-written and perfectly paced.
I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars.
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018
(This novel was the 90th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)