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The Field Guide to the North American Teenager

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  134 ratings  ·  61 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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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
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
Samantha (WLABB)
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Two words: LOVED IT!

Full review to follow.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

Cassandra {semi-hiatus}
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it

I was sent an ARC in exchange for honest review

I have a full video review :
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.
Arden Belrose
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
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(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
Rachel Strolle
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
i really enjoyed this one
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-faves
"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
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Huge 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
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
Mortisha Cassavetes
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019
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 ...more
Kim Small
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poc-rep
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.
Annabeth Tyler
DNF about halfway through. There was just too much questionable content I couldn’t deal with. 😞
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oh the teenage snark!
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Apologies, I finished this a little while ago, but I’ve been procrastinating on writing reviews, so some details are a bit hazy. I have to say this story and main character gave me genuine laugh out loud moments, I was cackling to myself loudly in opportune moments, and I’ve not come across a book capable of eliciting this reaction from me in a LONG time. It kind of reminded me of Mean Girls (except the plot of Mean Girls is also foggy to me, did I ever even watch that movie in its entirety?) – ...more
Pop Bop
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Don't Give Up; Slow Start Signals A Very Strong Finish

After about three chapters I was ready to give this book a miss. Our hero, Norris, a black French Canadian teenager transported from Montreal to Austin, Texas by his divorced mom, starts out as a whiny, self-absorbed, snotty bundle of bad attitude and lame gripes, who isn't nearly as clever or funny as he thinks he is. You think to yourself - O.K. maybe he'll grow up by the end, but do I want to ride this train all the way to the end of the l
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, dnf
DNFed halfway through. Kid relies too much on cheap stereotypes and doesn't give people a chance to prove themselves. Even at the halfway point, he was still being a dick about jocks and cheerleaders when, as one kid pointed out, he could easily be labeled a jock himself. I personally resent that shizz, because I did the same thing in junior high: "movies have told me that cheerleaders are bitches, so that's what I'm going to believe, even though I've never even talked to a cheerleader at my sch ...more
Tiff at Mostly YA Lit
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 ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Norris is a black, French Canadian who is being transplanted from Montreal to the warm, unforgiving heat of Austin, Texas. His mom has a new job at the University and all Norris wants to do is go back to the Great White North. Fitting in is never easy, especially when you are plopped into a huge high school with a completely different social structure than the one you just arrived from.

This book read very much like an homage to 80's teen romcoms, think John Hughes. From the thematic vibes, the s
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for the advanced copy for review.

I’m normally a bit wary about contemporary YA - there are so many books I haven’t enjoyed in the genre. I’m not one who likes the insta-love trope. Thankfully, this book is different and fresh - the focus isn’t really on the romance aspect. And the Canadian protagonist is a bonus!

Norris Kaplan is a French Canadian teen who has been forced to move to Texas with his mother. He goes in determined to hate it - and spews out enough snark
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Norris is moved from his home in Montreal to a place that is the complete opposite of everything that he knows. He is a child of divorce who feels like his father has abandoned him for his new family and baby. He is your typical teenage boy with a gigantic chip on his shoulder trying to fit in where he doesn’t really want to. He is snarky and sarcastic – and made me laugh out loud with some of his comments.

One of the ways that he copes with his new surrounding is to write in a notebook about th
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
*****3.5 Stars*****

Norris is a Black French Canadian who's moving to Austin, Texas. With that move, he brings a barrel of preconceived notions about not only Texas, but of the American Teenager. However, he's forced to not only check those notions, but also himself, as he discovers sometimes it's best not to judge a book by its cover.

The opening chapter is hilarious! If you're one who enjoys an unfiltered, unapologetic, voice that's full of sarcasm and wit, then you're sure to love Norris. Howe
Other Rachel

This poignant debut is through the eyes of an annoyed Canadian teenager forced to move to America. Norris is many things, a fan of pop culture, a child of divorced parents, and an intense hatred of the Texas weather. With using movies and TV as a guide to navigate the American public school system, but Norris will learn that despite his cranky exterior and sarcastic commentary written in his journal, the real guide all along is friend
Amy (novelteahappyme)
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A really enjoyable YA read that offers diverse representation, a fluid and comedic writing style, and an often sarcastic yet honest look at the high-school experience.

Although the plot moves along with great speed and perfect timing, the real standout of this novel is the cynical yet surprisingly sentimental main character Norris Kaplan. Norris is a rare specimen amongst male protagonists in YA contemporary fiction. He is equally unlikeable and endearing. He’s intelligent yet somewhat emotionall
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I want to preface this by saying that the only reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 is because I experienced literally zero of this book’s events in my American high school. Absolutely not a single one. I thought this book was insightful, clever, bitingly sarcastic, real, and intriguing, but the whole thing felt unbelievably cliched to me, even the parts that weren’t supposed to. I grew up in Oregon, which is probably quite different from Texas, admittedly, but a lot of the American thin ...more
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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 won the 2013 Tennessee Williams Fiction Contest and his writing has appeared in Observer, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, and others. He still doesn't have a valid driver’s license.