Book review by Aarene Storms: Charming as a Verb

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

Henri Haltiwanger is a good student at a prestigious prep school, runs his own dog-walking business for wealthy New York neighbors, and desperately wants to be admitted to Columbia University so his Haitian-immigrant dad will be proud of him. 

Henri is also a little bit of a con-man, but he is, seriously, a nice kid who makes a point of charming almost everybody he meets.

Only one person seems immune to his charm, and readers will immediately spot the chemistry between Henri and uber-smart (and kind of spectrum-y) Corinne Troy. 

Their friendship and tiny romance seems like such a good thing... until Henri's ambition pushes him a little bit too far.

This is a fun, own-voices book with relatable characters. Henri's need-to-succeed is obviously bound to fail, but it's the process of reassembling his life that proves his worthiness-- and his fascination with sneaker fashion is pretty adorable, too.

Some cussing, some smooching on the page, and a near-miss sexual situation with extra points for condom-preparedness. Recommended for readers 12 to adult.

Aarene Storms is a librarian who reads and reviews books for all ages. She can be reached at


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