Charming as a Verb

HarperAudio. 2020. 806p. $34.99. ISBN 9781799940623.
Gr 9 Up–Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger can charm just about anyone. He has a smile for every occasion and knows the effect each one has on his audience. Corrine Troy, his classmate at the prestigious FATE Academy and apartment building neighbor, can’t seem to charm anyone. Henri is a scholarship student, the son of Haitian immigrants, and his dad is the building’s caretaker. Corrine and her mom are tenants in the small but posh building. Their paths typically only cross when Corrine is impatiently waiting for Henri’s debate club practice to be over so she can use the room to study. But, when Corinne decides she needs to shed her “intense” persona to help make her more marketable to colleges, she blackmails Henri into helping. As they get to know each other, sparks begin to simmer below the surface until they move from annoyances to friends to much more. Henri and Corrine are both Black and Henri’s best friend was born in China and was adopted by white Jewish parents. While race does factor into some of the story, it is not the leading focus. James Fouhey does a great job expressing Henri’s voice; Corrine’s clipped words and phrasing make her interactions with Henri at times humorous and in others sweet.
VERDICT This book is quite charming and will have readers cheering for Henri and Corrine.

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