Review: Adulting 101, by Lisa Henry


cover-lisahenry-adulting101The 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.


Dates read:
Edition read:
August 13, 2016
Riptide Publishing
Contemporary, Young/New Adult, M/M, LGBT+
231 e-book pages
3rd person
August 18-19, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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Y’all. This book had me in giggle fits. Frequently. I was reading this around other people. People who don’t read what I read and never will. My fits of hilarity were side-eyed. I was asked to explain. I don’t ever want to explain to these folks. One time they mistook my laughter for an emotional breakdown. I mean, there were tears and full body shaking and stuff. I might’ve been near a break of some sort. But…

It’s been a while since I’ve laughed so hard.

There’s a ton of wit packed in here. But mostly, I was laughing so often because of the abundance of inelegant truth.

I frequently tap-dance on a platform of pompous negativity toward YA or NA because I’m all been there done that. Also, I don’t have kids and don’t know many, so why would I go back? BUT. There are times my need for a certain book, or a book by a certain author, is greater than my pomposity.

This was one of those times.

And I had a blast.

Quick about a peeve, because it’s a thing hard to pull off. Present tense. This is my least least favorite to read. It just…it feels like the author is working too hard to make me part of the story. And I don’t want that. I see a need for it in ghostly horror stories — but I don’t really read that so…. Everywhere else, I don’t like it much. I think, mainly, past tense reassures me the author is gonna get me to a satisfactory end. Present tense is too much like we’re on the ride together, and the end is unsure. Feel me, or no?

Somehow…some way. It worked here tremendously. I can’t explain it. So I’m not gonna try. I didn’t even roll my eyes in the first sentence it worked that good from the get-go.

Nick, bless him. Here’s a kid who just finished high school. He’s college bound after this last epic summer before Real Adulthood commences. He’s a virgin in all the ways. He’s gay and out with relatively decent parents. His straight BFF is the best ever even though they possibly share a semi-unhealthy codependency that includes cuddling (which that was cool as hell).

He’s a little lost, a little aimless; he’s questioning everything about this looming future and what he’s supposed to do and what’s expected of him.

And if parts of that didn’t haul me back in time kicking and screaming. Dammit.

Nick sets his virginal sights on Jai, a 25-year-old Adonis — because sure, why not aim high.

Jai is a world-traveler who doesn’t let grass grow under his feet, only returning to his small Ohio town in the summers to make enough bank for his next Big Adventure. He’s working a construction job when he crosses Nick’s path…and things go balls out from there.

Jai’s the kind of guy I wish I’d known way back when. A guy who could’ve helped me see a few different paths. I wouldn’t trade my college days but, I probably would’ve done better to put it off for a year of traveling. Like Nick, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Hell, I’m 43, and I still don’t know. Good thing I really like what I do…but it was never the dream. And back then, my options were: go to college, get a job and move out, or join the military. And…college was the path of least resistance that made everyone happy.

Blah. I don’t wanna talk about all that. College ended up being GREAT. Just, ya know…if traveling had been an option, I’d have grabbed it.


There was lots here I loved. I loved that Nick and Jai sort of took things slow, that they weren’t all up in each other 24/7 like so many young relationships tend to be. I loved that Nick was unabashedly unfiltered, that parsing his thoughts wasn’t an exercise in futility. The kid made some great points…in round about ways. I loved that the sexy-times weren’t so sexy, or perfect, or overloaded with feels. Teenage sex is…not those things for most folks.

I wanna say this is low angst. But I think that would minimize the angst that so many teenagers feel overpowered by. From an older perspective, I say pshhh. But back then? Back then it was All Huge Things that meant EVERYTHING. Not getting to drive my car to that party was gonna RUIN MY LIFE FOREVER. So yeah, there’s angst. Just, the right kind for where Nick is. Plus, he’s got his BFF Devon (who sort of helps) and Jai (whose got it goin’ on) to help shape his perspective.

From me to Nick: Adulting is overrated. Ain’t a one of us who knows what we’re doing all the time. I remember vividly the day I realized my parents had never parented. I was 11 and thought…huh, each new day was is brand new day for them to navigate (*evil grin* won’t this be fun). And, as it turns out, with kids or not, that’s all we’re all doing. One day at a time.


This review also posted on GoodReads.

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