The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe (Book Review)

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe - Book Cover - A spiral bound yellow notebook with doodles, set against a light grey background

Book Blurb:

Perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon and When Dimple Met Rishi.

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…like 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.

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.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Tags: YA, Teen Fiction, Humor, Immigration, Race, Romance, Highschool, Mixed Culture, Black Youth

My Thoughts:

(I received a free copy of this book, thanks to Balzer+Bray and Edelweiss, in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinions on the book.)

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. Some readers may find his constant sniping and self-absorption annoying but for reasons unknown to me I wasn’t so bothered with that. Maybe it’s because I find his quips too amusing and funny to mind.

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 with not-yet-mature-and-still-finding-their-identities teenagers and you’ve got a rollicking read!

“What sick wagon of explorers stopped here and went: Guys, the surface of the sun is looking a little out of reach for the horses; let’s just settle here.


“Nous sommes thrilled…happy? Joyeux? Joyeux! Joyeux de te recevoir ici,” she said pointing both indexes downward. “Ici, Anderson High!” Norris widened his eyes. Just what fresh hell was this?

The book touches on many topics: race, black youth, police brutality, sexuality and depression. But lightly. This is in the end still a book about growing up, stereotypes and facing your worst enemy: yourself. As the author, Ben Philippe, set out to write, The Field Guide to the North American Teenager shows that Norris Kaplan, despite all his labels, is just a regular teenager with issues.

We all mess things up. It’s what you do with the mess that matters.

The other characters were just as flawed and especially loved the bromance between Norris and Liam. Judith, Norris’s mother, was also a fiercely loving and intelligent woman.

…the fact that even though he was bilingual, his brain still defaulted to French,
his first of the two languages, when counting or doing math.

(Me! I do that, too!)

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is a refreshingly true-to-life story(that ending was frustrating but realistic), it also proves that stereotypes can be totally off the mark, and it can also have some truth to it.I could not get enough of the jokes and hilarity. It reminds me of Paper Towns(minus the mystery but with double—nay, TRIPLE, the funniness) and The Princess Diaries. I cannot wait to read more of Philippe’s works and hopefully, more of Norris Kaplan!

Parental Guidance: 13+
Violence – Mention of Police brutality
Sex – References and mentions. No sex scenes.
Religion – No
Profanity – Yes, colourful language abound. Not excessive though.

Recommended for: Fans of contemporaries with comical narrators trying to navigate highschool and teenage life. Fans of The Princess Diaries and Paper Towns.

Grab this now on: Amazon | B&N | BookDepository | Goodreads


Hey my fellow readers! It’s a new year and fresh experiences are waiting around the corner. I’d like to give a warm-hot-cocoa THANK YOU to each of you who’s read my posts and supported me! It really is true, the book community is filled with fantabulous people. A special shout out to:

You guys have left lovely comments, likes and put a smile on my face! (To be honest, every person who’s commented has made me smile!) I hope I haven’t missed out anyone 😁

Thank you to every one of my readers! If you liked, commented, followed, or even if you’ve been silently following: thanks a bookshelf!

Here’s to a stronger and even more brilliant 2019, everyone!

17 thoughts on “The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe (Book Review)

Add yours

  1. This sounds like a book that I would really enjoy! The comparison you make to Paper Towns has me really intrigued. I will definitely add it to the TBR. Thank you so much for the shoutout! It has been wonderful getting to know you through your blog. All the best for 2019! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d love to know your reaction whenever you get it! Feel free to holler me up!

      You’re like the blogger I’d go to to gush about contemporaries. I’m glad to have internet-met you! Thanks so much for your reply and support 😄😁


  2. I’m not a huge contemporary buff but dang this one sounds amazing. I have had a hard time finding actually funny books so I will definitely keep on the lookout for this one!
    And Arden, you’re the sweetest! You definitely made my year too, here’s to 2019 filled with books, blogs and friendship ✨

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yahhhhh, shucks, thank you! 😄😄 Now all we have to do is make friendship bracelets 😂😂 I jest 😁 It make me hAppY that I’ve managed to entice you with a contemporary! Although I NEVER put you down as someone who didn’t read the genre!!

      Liked by 1 person

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