The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I loved the adorably awkward Norris Kaplan in Ben Philippe’s The Field Guide to the North American Teenager. The Haitian-Canadian teen is a fish out of water when he moves to Austin, Texas, with his mother. The poor boy is “The New Kid” in high school and is having trouble adjusting to the Texas heat and making friends. At least he’s found a hockey team for some semblance of home.
I appreciate that this is a regular story about a Black teen. His heaviest issues are his parents’ divorce, he’s moved thousands of miles from the only home/country he’s ever known, and he’s stressed about prom. We’re not dealing with gang/street violence, teen pregnancy, drugs. That’s not the only experience of Black teens. Let’s hear it for some #BlackBoyJoy.
Full disclosure: the above review is the caption of when I posted The Field Guide to the North American Teenager as the prompt for a bookstagram challenge in December 2020. The challenge was “Decolonize December” and the prompt was Favorite BIPOC character. It was the first time I read a novel with a young Haitian boy as the main character. The only other YA novel with a child of Haitian immigrant parents that I’d read was Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.As I did for that novel when I posted on Instagram, I tagged the author and was pleasantly surprised when they liked and commented. I’m glad the younger generations of Haitian immigrant parents have positive representations in novels. And as the main characters no less.
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