Charming As a Verb
by Philippe, Ben

Henri "Halti" Haltiwanger can charm just about anyone. 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 CorinneTroy. 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 ... -

Morris Award winner Phillippe (The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, 2019) turns up the charm in his sophomore novel with aspiring designer and teenage scammer Henri Haltiwanger. A first-generation Haitian American, Henri is determined to make the most of his life, and he's already got it pretty figured out with his secretly self-run dog-walking business, tailored "Smile," and focus on attending Columbia. But when his cute-but-uptight peer discovers the reality behind Uptown Updogs, Henri agrees to help her socially in exchange for discretion. From its dynamic, easy-to-love characters to the endearing prose, this novel easily embodies Henri's cultivated suaveness, and his unusually confident persona, bring a fresh perspective. Readers eager to generate self-distinction will identify with Henri and appreciate the themes of honesty and integrity. Henri's voice, which is appropriately and realistically mature without feeling overly adult, will capture fans of Maurene Goo. A great choice for readers seeking a thematically substantive novel without an overly complex plot. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

A charismatic 17-year-old boy used to hustling his way through life meets his match. Henri Haltiwanger, who is Haitian American, has a face for everyone-the wealthy owners of the dogs he walks under his guise of a business, the rich kids he attends Fine Arts Technical Education Academy with on Manhattan's Upper West Side, and anyone else who can help further his dream of attending Columbia University. He takes pride in his charm until Corinne-classmate and neighbor-blackmails him into helping her fix her reputation for being excessively intense and lacking in social graces. This is the last thing he needs after the disappointment of a lackluster Columbia interview, but Henri agrees, knowing their friendship can be mutually beneficial. As the pair grows closer, he realizes that he could fall for Corinne. Under the enormous pressure that befalls many first-generation Americans, Henri will do whatever it takes for a dream he is beginning to question, leading him to take a risk that just may cost him everything. This humorous, first-person narra tive with a conversational, almost conspiratorial, tone will captivate readers even with the almost-too-neat ending. The author breathes life into each character, giving those in Henri's circle depth and investing readers in their stories. The novel demonstrates the pressure many face to be accepted into their dream colleges and thrive after high school. Corinne is black. A satisfyingly amusing read. (Romance. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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