Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

  • A Field Guide to High School
  • Written by Marissa Walsh
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375891090
  • Our Price: $8.99
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - A Field Guide to High School

A Field Guide to High School

Written by Marissa WalshAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Marissa Walsh


List Price: $8.99


On Sale: September 09, 2008
Pages: 144 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89109-0
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
A Field Guide to High School Cover

Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - A Field Guide to High School
  • Email this page - A Field Guide to High School
  • Print this page - A Field Guide to High School


Andie has just finished eighth grade and will be starting high school in the fall. The good news: Her super-popular valedictorian big sister, Claire, is graduating and won't be there to put Andie in the shadows. The bad news: Her super-popular valedictorian big sister, Claire, is graduating and won't be there to help her. But Claire hasn't forgotten Andie.

For her little sister, Claire has put together a guide that covers everything a freshman needs to know but didn't even think to ask. Andie reads every word and even shares it with her best friend, Bess.

But sometimes they wonder if Harvard-bound Claire got everything right! In this hilarious and honest look at one girl's heroic attempt to conquer high school, readers will get all the benefit of Claire's wisdom about making those four years more than bearable—and absolutely memorable. Fortunately, high school happens only once in a lifetime.

From the Hardcover edition.


The day my older sister, Claire, left for college she gave me this book.
This is how it happened. When I went outside to get in the car that would bring Claire and her stuff to college, there was a minifridge in my seat. And it wasn’t moving. “It’s either it or me,” I said. My parents looked at each other. My mother gave me money for pizza and said they wouldn’t be home too too late. My father gave me a weak smile. As they pulled away, Claire smirked out the window, then made that stupid Macaulay Culkin Home Alone face at me: a hand on each cheek and her mouth opened wide. I gave her the finger. Then I went back inside–there was no reason to start the day at this ungodly hour. Claire was the crazy one who had insisted on leaving at five-thirty a.m. because she wanted to beat her roommate there so she could get the best side. “Everyone knows that’s how it works,” she had explained. I didn’t think that was the nicest way to start things off, but I didn’t say anything. You couldn’t argue with Claire.
She had signed up for some pre-pre-preorientation college thing so she could “survey the competition, get a jump on everyone else, and hit the ground running.” Part of her motivation for doing this was because she had, according to her, been given the worst incoming first-year student at Yale for a roommate. Someone who had probably only applied there because she wanted to be like Rory on Gilmore Girls. Or First Daughter Barbara Bush. I didn’t think being like Rory was such a bad thing, but I kept my mouth shut. Besides, I secretly thought it was possible Claire had chosen Yale for the same reason.
What had happened was, my sister had sent the nice, summertime hello-I-like-to-sleep-with-the- window-open friendly e-mail to her roommate and received no response. My sister was not used to receiving no response. This was not how one treated my sister.
That girl was toast.
And so was I.
Claire had been like Ms. Plumstead Country Day, which was the stupid name of the stupid high school I’d be going to and she had just graduated from. She was popular, captain of the field hockey team, pretty, and smart. Yes, she was a total high school cliché. They should have shipped her out to Laguna Beach. And now she was going to Yale, where she would probably become a total college cliché. And I was starting at Plumstead, pretty sure no one would ever be crowning me anything except “Claire Petersen’s little (maybe she’s adopted?) sister.”
I hadn’t wanted to go to Plumstead. Claire and I had always gone to public school, but then when it was time for Claire to go to high school she was recruited by Plumstead, and for some reason I still don’t understand my parents agreed to send her there.
It had never occurred to me that I would have to go there, too. I just assumed I would go to the public high school, or to Pope Mother Teresa XXXIII, the Catholic school my best friend, Bess, was going to. But I didn’t even get a choice. As usual, I was paying the price of being related to Claire.
Plumstead hadn’t recruited me–they were just stuck with me because I was related to her. I wasn’t a star like Claire. I got Bs. I was good at soccer but I wasn’t the captain. I never scored. If Bess were here she would point out that that’s because I played defense, which is true. But it is also true that I am just average. My big sister is the most interesting thing about me. As I jumped back into bed, my knee hit something hard. I reached under my blanket: it was a book. But it wasn’t mine and it hadn’t been there when I’d gotten up. Claire. Either she had forgotten it or it was an overdue library book she wanted me to return for her. Typical.
My cell phone rang. It was five-forty-five. Who would be calling?
“Did you find it?”
“The book I left for you?”
“Who is this?”
Claire snorted. “Oh, so you’ve forgotten me already?”
I started to hang up.
“Wait! Andie! Are you in my room?”

I tried to go back to sleep but the book taunted me from the floor. It was as if Claire had never left. And with the new family-plan cell phones she had insisted my parents invest in for college (playing the safety card really works, by the way), she would continue to call me until I had read it and given her an A+. It was either that or change my number.
To be honest, I had nothing better to do. I opened the book, which Claire had modestly titled “A Field Guide to High School.” It looked like she had found an actual old field guide at a used-book store–this one was about poisonous plants and venomous animals–except that she had pasted over the descriptions of poison oak and scorpions. It was one of those Peterson’s guides, which was mildly amusing, because our last name just happens to be Petersen, with an “e.” I guess there was a reason my sister had gotten into Yale–she could be clever when she wanted to be.

From the Hardcover edition.
Marissa Walsh

About Marissa Walsh

Marissa Walsh - A Field Guide to High School
A Field Guide to Marissa Walsh

Habitat: New York City

High School Habitat: Lynn, Massachusetts

Carpool: I was in a carpool driven by parents for three years–my freshman year there were six of us, plus the driver!–and I was often the annoying late one in the morning. Not fun. Then senior year I drove two other girls in one of the girl’s mother’s extra car. (I didn’t have my own car.) It was great.

Clubs: I played soccer, basketball, and softball, was involved with the lit mag, edited the yearbook, and was a member of the Lynn Young Democrats.

Favorite American Idol: Kelly Clarkson

Favorite High School Band: I loved U2 when I was in high school. My first real concert was a U2 concert at Boston Garden at the beginning of 10th grade.

Favorite Book About High School: The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Favorite Book I Read in High School: Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. Beloved by Toni Morrison. Raymond Carver’s short stories.

Favorite High School Celebrity: Bono. Molly Ringwald. Tom Cruise. Bruce Willis. (I know!)

Favorite High School Class: Senior English

Favorite High School Clothing Brand: We weren’t allowed to wear jeans or sneakers to school. At the beginning of high school, I was really into Esprit and The Limited, which was very 80s. I had a hippie phase, with long, flowing skirts and those black Chinese Mary Jane slippers, which I wore in the winter without socks. Senior year I did a weird mix of vintage, hippie, and artsy. I wore an ill-conceived Betsey Johnson three-piece outfit to the prom with my hair in lots of little braids.

Favorite High School Movie: Pretty in Pink

Favorite High School Musical Character: Ryan!

Favorite High School Restaurant: Chi Chi’s and Pizzeria Uno

Favorite High School Song: “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” U2

Favorite High School Student: Hermione Granger

Favorite High School Teacher: Mr. Sneeden, my English and creative writing teacher, and Mr. E, my art teacher

Favorite TV Show About High School: In elementary school, I loved Fame, and wanted to move to New York so I could go to the High School for the Performing Arts. My parents wouldn’t let me, obviously. My high school ended up being nothing like that.

French or Spanish? Spanish, but I bombed the Spanish AP. And Latin! My parents made me take two years of Latin. There were only three kids in the class.

High School Group: My high school was so small that there were really only two groups: Popular and Not. All the kids who weren’t popular sort of banded together, even though we didn’t really have that much in common, other than the fact that we weren’t popular.

Job: I had two summer jobs. I worked at the Lynn Public Library as a page. And then the summer before 11th grade, I worked at a local beach, collecting money at the parking lot and cleaning the beach and the restrooms.


Praise for Zipped:
"The McNeals spin a wonderfully rich story." - Kirkus Reviews
Winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Children's Literature
Praise for Crushed:
"A compelling story about youthful mistakes - and how to make amends."
- Publishers Weekly

From the Hardcover edition.

Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: