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. . . .
Sometimes you just want a book that might not absolutely blow your mind, but will be a thoroughly enjoyable end of summer contemporary. This book was just what I wanted, and needed, to pick up, and I really enjoyed the audiobook version.
Although this book was predictable at times, I found myself easily falling into this story, rooting for Henri much more than I expected to, and falling in love with his best friend Ming. Charming as a Verb felt like a great encapsulation of end-of-high-school, beginning-of-the-rest-of-your-life, with all the pressures that comes with it. But what I really appreciated about this book was the level of depth in all other aspects just under the surface.
Montreal is nothing like Manhattan; it’s smaller and more concentrated, and unlike the city that never sleeps,
I loved the way Henri’s relationship with his parents was written, which felt genuine and relatable. I loved the way his mum was striving for her own new pathway, and his dad was willing to evolve to support his son. I loved the relationship Henri had with his uncle, and how not only him, but his family, would go to his uncle for difficult conversations. I love how this felt like a love-letter to the streets of New York City, but ended up with a small footnote to Montreal too.
There was an underlying tone to this book that explored living with money worries and a class divide too, which I felt was handled really well. Although Henri wasn’t always the perfect protagonist, and definitely makes some mistakes, for the most part I agreed with the direction this story took and enjoyed the ride.
Montreal feels like a city that’s gotten a good night’s rest and woken up in time for a bike ride alongside the Saint Lawrence River.
Young Adult contemporaries don’t often surprise me anymore, but this one is definitely a pleasant surprise. Although it was still predictable at times and I did question some of our narrators actions and the way they were handled, I enjoyed it a lot and it was the light and fluffy contemporary I needed!
4 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽