Wednesday, 23 January 2019

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

Well worth the read.

I'd read about 10% of the book when I decided that it just wasn't working for me. I was going to stop, but then considered, what would a tell a teen who asked me about it at work one day.  I'd better read a little more, give it a fair chance at least.

I tried to put myself in a more 'teen' frame of mind and plunged back in.

I already liked Norris. He was kind of cool, but feeling out of place with the move to Austin from Montreal.  I had moved overseas at the same age and found myself a visible minority at my new school.  I couldn't fault his mom for moving the two of them, university positions aren't easy to come by and this job was a perfect fit for her knowledge base.

Back to the high school.  Sure, it was larger than Norris's previous one, but essentially the same just with a larger assortment of students.  He'd soon find a way to fit in.  The cheerleaders, jocks, geeks, loners and more were all there. Which was he. It was a new school, a new start, he could have his pick.

Writing in the journal that was given to him the first day of school became his coping method and sounding board.  He wrote down first impressions and observations at first.  It quickly became his 'thing'.  The novel itself is written as though a field guide. At the start of each chapter is heading such as: observable characteristics, attire, habitat, preening habits etc.  At first, I only glanced at these not realizing that I was missing out on a valuable part of the book's approach.  When I started reading them more closely, the concept of field guide became clear.

I'm glad I stuck with this book as I found myself really enjoying it.  The family dynamics between Norris and his parents seemed so real, both the good and the bad.  The inviting atmosphere at his part time job should have been a signal to Norris and I was waiting for him to get it.  Now when I'm at work and a teen asks me about this book, I'll be prepared and will gladly recommend it.

I received and advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.


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