Reviewed by Alexander
AUTHOR: Lisa Henry
NARRATOR: Nick J. Russo
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 6 hours, 1 minute
RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2017
The struggle is real.
Nick Stahlnecker is 18 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.
Was I that stupid, self-centered, and ridiculous when I was 18? That is the question I had to ask myself for the first half of Adulting101 (the answer is no, btw).
Alright, I’m not really setting the stage well because as much as Nick was all of those typical teen behaviours, he was still a really fun character, flaws and all. Then you have Jai, the yang to Nick’s yin…cool, calm, focused an (so we are told) hot as all get out. Although Jai has travelled and shows a great deal of maturity, his single-minded focus on the next travel destination shows that his maturity isn’t as well formed as it would at first appear.
So in this respect, both guys need to grow up, and Henry masterfully addresses this. What begins as a (disgusting) impulsive workday tryst slowly grows into more. The growth of Nick and Jai’s relationship from fuck buddy to boyfriend was smooth and grew at a realistic pace, and truly felt right.
Back to the beginning of my review now, to revisit Nick. I cannot recall the last time that I went from exasperation to empathy for a character. Nick’s behavior was driven by so much more than we first suspected and I was truly moved by the revelations (that I will not be sharing with you), but will say that the ending caught me off guard and moved me.
Russo was perfect, simply the perfect narrator for Adulting 101. Age appropriate, and excellent characterizations made listening to him a treat. On a technical level, I did notice a few mispronounced words, sloppy diction, and a name error (“Nick” instead of “Jai”), but the good pace, clean diction, and characters more than made up for those areas.
I very much recommend Adulting 101 if you want to remember you foolish teenage years, see two great characters fall in love, and I tell you that Nick’s journey will have me re-listening to the story again and again.