Norris Kaplan is prepared to hate Texas. As a Black French-Canadian, he thinks of himself as the opposite of the Ideal American Teen that he sees in the movies. He’d much rather be back at home in Montreal, instead of moving to Austin, away from all that he’s ever known. To chase away boredom, he starts to record his observations of his peers as though they were animals in the wilderness. But soon stereotypes start morphing into actual people and he finds himself sort-of-friends with a “Beta Cheerleader,” “Chill Monk” and “Maniac Pixie Dream Girl.” Nothing is ever that simple, though.
I love an anti-hero. Someone who may not make the best decisions, or have the right motivations or outlook, but it all just makes you root for them more. Norris is an extremely relatable and funny character; whose flaws only make him more so. He puts out a persona of snarky observations, but over the course of the novel grows as a character to see everyone as human, not just a category. In the end, he's still a kind person and decent human being. His relationships with others (especially his parents) were well developed and thought-out. Perfect for YA fans bored of static characters. However, the pacing was a bit slow, and there was a lot of seemingly unnecessary build-up. I wish that there was more emphasis on the second half of the book instead of the first. Also, I was a bit confused as to why Norris wrote his observations of people through the lens of of wilderness survival, as it was never mentioned that he had a background in this. Maybe it has to do with being the "stereotypical Canadian"? 4.5/5
- @viedelabibliothèque of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board