The Field Guide to the North American Teenager – Ben Philippe


(Expected publication: January 22nd 2019 by Balzer + Bray)

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.


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 the people that he interacts with. As he grows to know those people and starts to feel more at home in Austin – those first impressions and unkind diary entries come back to bite him.

This is a story of a boy navigating the changes in his life – finding that people are not always what they seem and realizing that he needs to open his mind and his heart if he is going to be the person that he needs to be. Having the main character be male offered a different perspective while reminding us that deep down we all deal with the same issues of fitting in, family struggles, and trying to be the best person you can be. Author Ben Phillipe really captured it in his writing.

This novel is appropriate for older teens – there is some coarse language as well as sexual references.

This book was provided to me from HC as an ARC for review.



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