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The Field Guide to the North American Teenager

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  3,819 ratings  ·  837 reviews
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 ...more
Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Balzer + Bray
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,819 ratings  ·  837 reviews

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Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
DNF at 15%: I'm sorry but I just can't read this anymore. Being inside the main character's head was genuinely one of the most insufferable reading experiences I've ever had. Maybe I just ~didn't get it~ but life is too short for me to force myself through this.
Larry H
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such a fun, endearing, and thought-provoking book.

Subject: Norris Kaplan, a Black French-Canadian high school student who is forced to move from Canada to Austin, Texas when his mother takes a university job there. Leaving his home, his best friend, hockey fans, etc., is bad enough, but for a teenager with overactive sweat glands, moving to Texas is like hell on earth. (Maybe hotter?)

"Of all the things Norris disliked about leaving his life behind, his mother's paranoid insistence that
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
may ❀
book #1 for summerathon, under the challenge of: "book ft. a roadtrip, traveling, or vacation"

this book has far LESS traveling/road-tripping than i anticipated. i have no idea where i got this notion, but i totally thought this was a book about a roadtrip (wow, someone needs to actually read the blurbs)


- the main character is a snarky little monster and i loved it
- the relationship between norris and his mother is so sweet and precious
- norris felt like such a honest, true te
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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 ...more
Lauren Lanzilotta
2.5 stars

It was nice to read about a Canadian teenager, being one myself. It's almost a rarity to come across a Canadian protagonist in YA.

“When you were the child of immigrants, you weren't just you; your success was also your parents', your cousins', your relatives' still struggling for life in Haiti or India, wishing they were you.”

Norris has lived in Canada for all of his life, and has over the years made close friends through school and his hockey team. This all threatens to change when
This book is, in its own way, a fresh view on the high school experience. I wanted to read it because the synopsis was really interesting, but also because Norris was from Montreal, where I am.

I loved the categorization that Norris did on his notebook, I loved his sarcasm. I also loved how he went past the first impression of several people to actually coming to know and like them (or, at least, get along with them).
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
This was so cute! I read this because it's one of the picks for the summer reading camp I'm helping run at my high school. I really enjoyed Norris's character and his messy relationships with girls and friends. It's always hard to be the new kid, and it was fun watching Norris navigate the different social circles and try to make friends while also dealing with his complicated relationship with his dad, who still lived in Canada. I really appreciated how the conflicts in this book weren't wrappe ...more
mindful.librarian ☀️
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
Samantha (WLABB)
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
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Feb 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: High school readers and older only, with adult guidance
Austin, Texas, in present time

This was a really good “coming-of-age” story, with very interesting plot twists throughout. The author is spot-on with his descriptions of high school life, and Norris’s Field Notes at the beginning of each chapter are hilarious! Being a native Texan, I could also appreciate the passages about the oppressive summer heat! I found myself wondering if the Austin stores and restaurants mentioned actually exist, because I want to re-visit if they are!

Red Flags:
Cori Reed
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was so much fun! If you love contemporary, but want something a little bit different, check this out!
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
awww this was extremely heart warming and reminded me so much of my snarky high school self
Rashika (is tired)
Actual Rating 3.5

I 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
Ivy Moore
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: came-soon-18-19, arcs
Full review:


“‘I’m proud of you, Canada,’ Maddie said, watching him, a smile on her face.
‘Because I’m out here, socializing like a real live American boy?’ Norris snorted. ‘If this keeps going, I might buy a Chevy and take it to a levee, whatever that is.’”

Overall, The Field Guide to the American Teenager was an unexpected win in my book. While the moral of the story wasn’t too unique in the YA field, that made it no less important and heartfelt. The
Kelli Gleiner
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
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.
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, audiobook
This was pretty cute and fun. I liked having a male narrator and his take on America, having come from Haitian parents and born in Canada was funny and interesting. Each chapter begins with Norris's observations about teenage traditions or things Texans say or how cheerleaders are all named Maddie. Norris was cynical and didn't want to move with his mom to a new country, but as he began to make friends and participate in typical teen things, like prom, first job, navigating dating, he started to ...more
Jay G
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my youtube channel:

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

Norris is a young black French-Canadian who recently left Montreal to move to Austin, Texas with his mother. He is not happy with the move, but makes a deal with his mom that he will give Texas a try. Upon arriving, Norris meets every high school stereotype you can think of and records it all in a noteb
Jessica Woodbury
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I highly enjoyed this riff on the snarky teen protagonist. The Snarky Teen is basically a staple of YA fiction these days, always ready with the perfect quip or takedown, mercilessly judging the popular kids for mercilessly judging them, the sarcastic center of the universe that doesn't understand them. Except, as Philippe notes, that person is kind of the worst and is going to alienate a lot of people along the way.

It's a really solid approach to a YA novel, especially because the book itself g
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, reads-of-2019
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!
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
* review of an advanced reader copy courtesy of the publisher

Haitian 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
Jennie Shaw
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I aggressively LOVED THIS. I laughed out loud so much you guys, my kids and cats took turns saying, “can u not?” with their eyeballs at me.

Norris is so snarky and guarded and wrapped up in himself and I just loved his entire unlikeable-but-actually-so-human-and-love-able teenage situation. His relationship with his parents felt so real, complications and all.

Have you ever felt like a sport was stalking you? This is like the third time in a year that hockey has featured heavily in something I’m
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it

I was sent an ARC in exchange for honest review

I have a full video review :
Isabelle | Nine Tale Vixen
content warnings: (view spoiler)
rep: (view spoiler)

Let's start with the positive: what I did love about this book is the
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you love comedies, or ANYTHING that makes you laugh you will l-o-v-e this book. The main character Norris has a personality out the wazoo and he will soon become your favorite.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book ended up being so different from what I had expected! Though I shouldn’t be too surprised, since this is Philippe’s debut novel, so he’s definitely a new-to-me author. The main character of this book, Norris, was likeable for me from the start, and there was a lot of snarky humour sprinkled throughout this book, which was great. I think that I liked the humour the most, if I had to pick a top favourite thing!

It was also quite interesting to read about Texas from the perspective of a fe
3.5/5 rounded up!

You're not Liam. Or Eric. You don't get to be. And that's unfair, and I'm sorry baby. I really am, but that's the world. It was for your dad, it is for you, and it will be for your too, so you might as well get used to it

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is a story about identity and race hidden in a cute high school story. It talks about prejudices, and it opened my eyes on things I had never think about.

Norris is a really fun voice to read; sarcastic, a bit cyni
Vicky Again
Norris would definitely fall under the "unlikeable protagonist" category. I liked that he learned throughout the story and grew as a person, but this story was also hard to get through because he was unlikeable.

And I understand why and it totally tracks with his character (being rude, standoffish, and super judgemental) but it just made this a lot less fun to read than I had hoped.
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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 still doesn't have a valid driver’s license.

Articles featuring this book

Move over tribute volunteers and chosen ones. There's a new wave of heroes in town. This year, the young adult category is brimmin...
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“Why are you so mad at me?" Norris shouted back. The neighbors could definitely hear them now. His throat dry, but he didn't care. "I'm sorry if I interrupted one of your dates, or whatever, but I DID NOT DO ANYTHING! Ground me for leaving prom, ground me for drinking, but I didn't drive, I didn't have unprotected sex, I didn't even get high! You know that! You're supposed to be on my side here, Mom!"
"NO!" she hurled back. "Not on this, Norris" I can't be!"
"Why the hell not?!"
"You know damn well! Trayvon Martin," she began. "Tamir Rice, Cameron Tillman, so many others that I can't remember all their names anymore!"
Norris knew too well. It was almost a ritual, even back in Canada. They would sit as a family and watch quietly. "Be smart out there," Felix used to say.
"You're not a handsome blue-eyed little Ken doll who's going to get a slap on the wrist every time he messes up. That, tonight?" she said, pointing to the door. "Do you know what that was? Do you?!"
"That was a fucking coin flip, Norris. That was the coin landing heads." Her finger dug into his chest, punctuating every other word she was saying, spittle flying at his face. "Heads. A good one. Officer Miller, who has four sons, and luckily, mercifully, thank Jesus saw someone else's kid back-talking him tonight."
She exhaled, her breath Thai-food hot against his face.
"Tails." Her voice broke. "Tails, and I would be at the morgue right now identifying you! With some man lecturing me about our blood alcohol level and belligerent language and how you had it coming.”
“When you were the child of immigrants, you weren't just you; your success was also your parents' your cousins', your relatives' still struggling for life in Haiti or India, wishing they were you. It was your job, your preordained celestial existence or whatever, to make the most of it.” 1 likes
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