Title: Adulting 101
Author: Lisa Henry
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 256 Pages
Category: Contemporary, New Adult, Romantic Comedy
At a Glance: I can’t even deal with how cute this book was. It was a feel-good, low angst, laugh-out-loud, lovely summer read.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: The struggle is real.
Nick Stahlnecker is eighteen and not ready to grow up yet. He has a summer job, a case of existential panic, and a hopeless crush on the unattainable Jai Hazenbrook. Except how do you know that your coworker’s unattainable unless you ask to blow him in the porta-potty?
That’s probably not what Dad meant when he said Nick should act more like an adult.
Twenty-five-year-old Jai is back in his hometown of Franklin, Ohio, just long enough to earn the money to get the hell out again. His long-term goal of seeing more of the world is worth the short-term pain of living in his mother’s basement, but only barely.
Meeting Nick doesn’t fit in with Jai’s plans at all, but, as Jai soon learns, you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to have the adventure of a lifetime.
This is not a summer romance. This is a summer friendship-with-benefits. It’s got pizza with disgusting toppings, Netflix and chill, and accidental exhibitionism. That’s all. There are no feelings here. None. Shut up.
Review: I. Loved. This. Book. Adulting 101—shockingly, my first book by Lisa Henry—was an absolute delight. Between all of the fantastic pop culture references—mostly Middle Earth related—and just the general hilarious ridiculousness that was Nick, I was constantly chuckling at something. And, when I say Nick is ridiculous, I mean RIDICULOUS—though, that should by no means be taken as derogatory. I completely adored him. Sure he has no filter, sizable anxiety issues, and is uncertain about his future…but, he is also smart, fiercely loyal to his best friend, Devon, and throws himself fearlessly into his pursuit of his crush, Jai. In fact, one of Jai’s early impressions of Nick made me giggle.
“How is this kid even real? Real people have filters.”
Ha! I live with a no-filter kid, so I know that not all real people have filters. But, it’s true that when you encounter someone who doesn’t seem to be able to stop every single thought he has from coming out of his mouth, it can be a pretty crazy and often funny encounter! The situations that Nick and Jai continuously keep finding themselves in throughout the book, i.e., basically getting caught by a seemingly endless and embarrassing string of people, in multiple sex acts or positions and various stages of undress, are BEYOND funny. Each one sort of more ridiculous than the last.
Adulting 101 isn’t only a massively awesome comedy romp, however; it is also quite touching at times. Both Nick and Jai have stuff that they are dealing with and/or running away from. Nick thinks he’s a fuckup, is unable to have meaningful communication with his parents, particularly his father, and the thought of leaving for college at the end of the summer has brought back his anxiety attacks. Jai, at twenty-five, is continuing his cycle of traveling nine months of the year, and then coming home to Ohio to live with his mom for the summer months, solely to save enough money to leave again. His reasons for ditching his small home town to hang out in more exotic locales are not the same as when he began—he is no longer running away from the pain of losing his father, for example—but, he’s running all the same.
I also ended up really loving Jai, and enjoyed how the relationship between he and Nick developed. Jai may seem a bit flaky, with the way he’s lived his grownup life so far, but that’s definitely a misconception. He is very bright and capable, and I think being even that little bit ‘wiser’, he is just the companion that Nick really needs. Nick has done well so far, going through life with his best friend, Devon, but at some point that co-dependent bromance is going to have to end, the thought of which is leaving Nick extremely insecure about his future.
As much as these guys try to deny that there is anything serious building between them…Nick just wants to lose his virginity before college, after all, and Jai figures there could be worse ways to pass his time at home than having a fuck buddy…the feelings come to bite them in the ass anyway.
I have to quickly sing the praises for Devon, and the brilliant friendship that Henry has written here. Readers are going to fall hard for these guys and all of their BFF cuddling and carrying on. Devon is ten different kinds of awesome; Nick’s feelings for him are totally understandable. It’s definitely a bromance for the ages! This passage from the book says it all:
“Devon is fucking incredible, and, if he weren’t straight, Nick would be planning their wedding already.”
I can’t even deal with how cute this book was. It was a feel-good, low angst, laugh-out-loud, lovely summer read. And, the end, you guys…OMG. Part of it I saw coming, but part of it I did not. And, it was FANTASTIC. I absolutely recommend picking this one up!
Lastly, a quick note about the voice of the book…The story is told in third person present tense, which I have to admit, as a reader, I haven’t encountered a ton but in this case, really enjoyed. It lent a sort of urgency to the story that might not have come across with a past tense voice. Also, it didn’t feel as off-putting as first person present can sometimes feel. I liked the way author Chuck Wendig put it in one of his blog posts:
“Third person present lets me get close, but doesn’t demand intimacy. I don’t have any problems with first person present, but to me the combination can — though not always — feel too close. The characters run the risk of becoming irritating or over-sharing. And first person also limits us to who we know and who we see. It undoes some chances for suspense or mystery because we’re living in a character’s head all the time. Here it feels like we’re hovering close enough to hear the character’s surface thoughts — to get some internal history, but not to stand under the waterfall of their thoughts and drown there.”
You can buy Adulting 101 here: