Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe is a book I wish had been released when I was in my senior year of high school. Filled with both entertaining mishaps and vulnerability, this is a realistic depiction of the end of high school. Henri is a relatable main character who makes mistakes, and the descriptions of the New York/Montreal backdrop makes the book even more special. I would definitely recommend this one.Title: Charming as a Verb
Author: Ben Philippe
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication 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.
❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃
Review: Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe
This book follows Henri, a popular high school student navigating the struggles of senior year and running a dog walking business on the side that isn’t exactly what it seems. When a classmate learns the truth about his business, she blackmails him and promises to keep his secret in exchange for tips on how to fit in at school. I loved the dog walking aspects of the book and the very real depictions of what it’s like applying to universities. Henri actually considers going to university up here in Canada, which I have never seen before in a book and found really interesting.
❀ Henri is realistic and relatable
Henri himself is a fantastic main character who is both realistic and relatable. He is faced with many difficult decisions, and he feels a lot of pressure from his dad who wants him to go to Columbia. Henri must decide what his dream is and what he wants for himself. He definitely has his flaws, and he makes some pretty serious mistakes throughout the book, but it is easy to forgive him since he truly learns from them, and these mistakes only make him more believable as a character.
❀ The setting is fantastic
One of my favourite aspects of the book is the setting. Much of the book takes place in New York, but there is also a portion that is set in Montreal. I live in Montreal, so this was a really nice surprise since I rarely see my city as the backdrop for a book. I appreciated all the little details about the city that are included, like the Farine Five Roses sign near the train station, and I found that Philippe’s descriptions of both New York and Montreal definitely do them justice. He does a fantastic job capturing the atmosphere of city life, and this perfectly complements the narrative.
❀ Fun and heartfelt story
Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe is a relatable story that is both fun and heartfelt. The main character is well-developed and has his flaws, and the story has two stunning settings that are written with attention to detail. Those in their final year of high school, and anyone looking for a strong coming of age novel, will enjoy this one.