The Field Guide to the North American Teenager

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Author: Ben Philippe

Setting: Austin, Texas.

Identifying characteristics: Abundance of food trucks and concert T-shirts worn by adults.

Habitat: 104 degrees. Basically, inhospitable to human life.

Meet Norris Kaplan. As a Black French Canadian (and avid ice hockey fan) who has been recently plunked into Austin, Texas, he is not happy. Norris’s superpower has always been the ability to wield a sharp comeback and keep people at a safe distance. He’ll just do his time there until he can finally go back home.

Having grown up on a steady diet of American TV, Norris knows just what to expect when he starts at a prototypical American high school. Sure enough, he soon encounters:

Aarti, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Preys on sexually inexperienced, awkward teen boys

Madison, the Beta Cheerleader: In the middle of the cheerleading pyramid. “Good listener.”

Liam, the Loner: Sad eyes. Headphones not necessarily playing anything.

Hairy Armpits, the Bully: Improperly groomed linebacker. Missing Link understudy.

Against all odds, though, he finds himself with a love interest, a new potential best friend, and what appears to be a budding ice hockey team. Will he give in and start living his life and maybe even (groan) enjoy it? Or will he blow it all by being . . . well, Norris?