Title: Charming as a Verb
Author: Ben Philippe
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger can charm just about anyone. He is a star debater and popular student at the prestigious FATE academy, the dutiful first-generation Haitian son, and the trusted dog walker for his wealthy New York City neighbors. But his easy smiles mask a burning ambition to attend his dream college, Columbia University.
There is only one person who seems immune to Henri’s charms: his “intense” classmate and neighbor Corinne Troy. When she uncovers Henri’s less-than-honest dog-walking scheme, she blackmails him into helping her change her image at school. Henri agrees, seeing a potential upside for himself.
Soon what started as a mutual hustle turns into something more surprising than either of them ever bargained for. . . .
This is a sharply funny and insightful novel about the countless hustles we have to keep from doing the hardest thing: being ourselves.
Henri Haltiwanger is a charming student at the prestigious FATE Academy in New York. He has created his own dog walking company, and he aspires to attend Columbia University. When he gets a new dog walking client, he’s brought to the home of his neighbour and classmate Corinne Troy. Corinne discovers that Henri’s dog walking company is masquerading as a large corporation when it’s really just rum by him. She blackmails him to help her become more social at school to look better on college applications, or she will expose the truth about his company. Henri and Corinne get closer and closer, until he makes a mistake that jeopardizes everything he’s worked towards.
This story addresses common issues that teens face, such as applying to college and keeping up with your classmates. Henri and his friends applied to colleges, and they each had different experiences. For one friend it was easy to get an acceptance right away, while another had to work a little harder at it. Henri had some problems while applying, and he had to decide if he really wanted to go to Columbia for the right reasons. Though Henri went to a prestigious school, he wasn’t in the same position as the other students. His fellow students were from wealthy families, but Henri’s parents were working class immigrants. His parents’ dreams for Henri got in the way of his own path in life, which led Henri to take an extreme measures.
This story reminded me a lot of The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, Ben Philippe’s first novel. Henri was like Norris, the main character in that novel, with his confident attitude to life. Though some parts of this story were predictable, I still found it exciting when my predictions were correct.
This is a great contemporary story!
Thank you HarperCollins Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
Have you read Charming as a Verb? What did you think of it?