The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
by Ben Philippe
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 realises 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 was another book that I picked up as part of the N.E.W.T.S readathon in August. I read it to fulfil the prompt for an Exceeds Expectations in Potions which was to read a book that is the colour of your Hogwarts house, which is obviously Hufflepuff.
We follow Norris who has moved from Canada to Texas with his mum. Norris is not happy to be there and is given a note book to journal his experiences in which he begins his field guide.
This story follows the classic troupe of a disgruntled teen that then learns to enjoy where they are for their original opinions to be used against them. I did get American teen movie vibes throughout reading this story.
I absolutely love the humor in this story! Norris is a very sarcastic character with a very dry sense of humor. I found myself laughing so many times throughout reading it. Madison was another character who is quite sarcastic. Between the two characters there are some amazing one liners! Ben Philppe his an amazing writer of humorous exchanges.
The descriptions of Texas and Canada are two cities that are complete opposites of each other which I think Philippe used to his advantage when getting readers to really sense their differences. Canada’s description makes readers feel the homeliness that Norris feels when he talks about it. The utter cold is also used to contrast from Texas where the heat is pointed out which gives the reader a feeling of discomfort just as Norris feels.
Overall I enjoyed my time reading ‘The Field Guide to the North American Teenager’ it was a quick read that made me laugh throughout. I did however feel some disappointment at the ending of the story.
Ease of reading: 8.5/10
Character Development: 8/10
World Building: 7/10
Quality of Writing: 7/10