Group Review: Adulting 101 by Lisa Henry

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.

Adam - 4.5 Hearts

Nick Stahlnecker, fresh out of high school, is trying to do the adult thing by working in an office for the summer, before he goes off to college. It’s incredibly boring, with the only bright spot being that he gets to stare at the older and hotter-than-sin Jai Hazenbrook a few times a week. Nick decides to be upfront with Jai about his crush and offer him a blowjob at work, which ends with them both getting fired.

Jai Hazenbrook is a nomad, travelling for most of the year and returning home to work during the summer. He’s usually a one-night-stand type of guy, but he’s drawn to Nick. Even though the two didn’t get off to a great start, Jai is more than happy to be Nick’s fuck-buddy for the rest of the summer. But as Jai gets to know Nick, he sees how lost Nick really is, and how little he wants to go to college.

Lisa Henry doesn’t do light and fluffy often, but when she does, there’s usually some comedy thrown into the mix as well. Nick has absolutely no filter, and tends to blurt out whatever comes to his head. Add in the hilarious secondary characters, particularly Nick’s BFF Devon and Jai’s family, and ‘Adulting 101’ had me snickering from early on.

The author brilliantly captures what it’s like to be eighteen - when you’re legally an adult, but emotionally still an adolescent. Nick is at times selfish and immature, but he’s also incredibly loyal and more aware of what’s going on around him than he lets on. I may have been annoyed by some of his actions, but I could understand where Nick was coming from.


Nick and Jai start off as strangers-with-benefits. Jai’s been around the block a few times, while Nick is still a blushing virgin. Though Nick doesn’t let his blushing get in the way of going at Jai. I admit, I’m a fan of a more experienced lover initiating the virginal one. Jai and Nick had immediate chemistry. But the sex was also real, at times even awkward. I was all on board for it.


The romance grows gradually. For most of the book, the two MCs are set on just having fun, but they eventually realize that they feel more for one another. The slower pace made sense for the characters involved. Jai gives Nick the strength he needed to own his feelings and confront his parents. On the other hand, Nick gives Jai a reason to look beyond the next adventure, at something more long-term.

Nick and Jai may be opposites in many ways, but they made sense together. I loved how easily the two connected, and how they were able to communicate with each other, without any unnecessary drama.

I really liked how Lisa Henry acknowledged that college isn’t for everyone. Jai decided to see the world instead of sitting in a lecture hall, and Nick has serious doubts about whether he’d survive at college. Different strokes for different folks, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that.

The ending is a strong HFN, which is realistic, and is brilliantly fluffy and adorable. Though as much as I liked the conclusion, I wouldn’t say no to a sequel!

If you’re looking for a sweet and sexy coming-of-age story, I would definitely recommend ‘Adulting 101’!

Optimist King's Wench - 4 Hearts

I seem to be on a fluffy kick lately. This was so fluffy and cute I wanted to hug it. But hugging it out with a kindle is… unsatisfying.

I know the whole “adulting is hard” thing is a pithy, slangy quip, but that doesn’t make it false. Adulting is hard. It’s a PITA sometimes. Never more so than during one of those pivotal phases of life like transitioning from living with your parents to moving into a college dorm and being on your own for the first time, an adult but not quite an adult.

I remember that time and it scared me shitless. I empathized with Nick on so many levels. A four year education isn’t the right path for everyone especially when you don’t have a clue what you want to do which is Nick’s predicament. He also doesn’t want to disappoint his parents and isn’t all that certain of alternate options. All of his uncertainties and angst spoke to me and are what I liked best about him.

Nick reminds me an awful lot of Stiles. Sometimes Stiles’ ADHD can overwhelm me and initially I feared that would be the case but while he retains his verbal vomiting tendencies throughout he does have depth. His randomness is focused if you can follow along and thankfully Jai can. Jai also balances out some of Nick’s Tasmanian devilness.

Jai is 7 yrs older and is a wanderluster. He only comes home for the summers to save up enough money to travel the other nine months of the year, usually doing construction. After he and Nick get canned from the construction company FOR REASONS Nick finagles him a job at Pizza Perfecto. I’m still not sold that he could save up enough working at Pizza Perfecto to travel the rest of the year but… *shrugs* it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of this story in the slightest.

It made me laugh and feel good and that’s what’s most important to me when I read these sorts of stories. Jai and Nick start as fuck buddies that turn into something more, all of which felt like a natural progression. There are some differences between them but I wouldn’t call them opposites. I liked that Jai could meet Nick where he was and see that he’s more than just a spaz. He helps him with the whole adulting thing and slowly becomes attached to him. It seems as though he’s just as surprised by his feelings for Nick as Nick is surprised by Jai's feelings for Nick which is what made the fluffy EXTRA fluffy and delightful.

I do have to say, though, that as much as I liked Jai and Nick, Nick and Devon’s bromance was my favorite part. Their texting and conversations were comedy gold. Jai’s family are pretty comedic in their own rite and their dynamics entertained the bejesus out of me.

There are some sexy times that aren’t really that sexy. Because 18 yr old virgin but I have hopes he’ll continue to improve. With practice. I also really hope their Bidness Time will stop being interrupted by everyone and their father. DAMN! Also, would not be mad if there were to be a sequel. If someone were so inclined.

Anyone who enjoys Henry’s DiscontentedWinter writes or coming of age stories will enjoy this fluffy bit of goodness.

SheReadsALot - 4.25 Hearts

"Are we Netflix and chilling?"
"I don't know what that means."
"Are you twenty-five or are you eighty-five?"

Adulting is hard as fuck, yeah?

I mean I am one and I totally can say it's a struggle. The struggle is real.

Some days all you wanna do is this:

And adulting just comes in to ruin your day wearing a respectable pinstriped suit, waving responsibility and bills and less fun things like it was going out of style. :/

They're probably going to be fifty-eleventy gazillon reviews on this book (including our group review) because it's Lisa Henry. And a light Lisa Henry which makes it more special? I'm still new to the LH bandwagon but I've enjoyed myself with this story...though I struggled with Nick, the 18 year-old protagonist who struggles with adulting.

My relationship with Nick went through stages:

Like & Laughter ~~>

"Does he turn off for just a minute?" ~~>

"Hmm...guess not" ~~>

Ambivalent ~~>

"Hey, this guy me reminds of someone" ~~> couldn't be him ~~>

**Sterek break...[I binged read for an entire day]**

Back to Adulting 101...trickle reading... "I think I like Nick. I'd totally swipe him" ~~>

"Hey he's just misunderstood." ~~>

"OMG I think I like like him. Has it been the entire time?"~~>

Feels, they've been lightly scratched. ~~>

Y'know what? Nick was perfectly normal and adorable."

I overcame my struggle with Nick. He's so eighteen - full of youth, dumb and hormones. What a mix.

I think Henry captured a modern day 18 year old pretty wonderfully. And Jai? At first I was one #teamdoubt when I saw Nick lusting after a 25 year old. Because you know the main thing they'll be talking about it gential gymnastics.

But both men (*snort* I'm calling Nick a man very lightly) were on an even playing field. Adulting 101 is set in Franklin, Ohio. It's the summer before college and Nick is struggling with coming of age. And Jai...he is sort of dealing with his issues. The two start a fuck buddy relationship in one very HEE-LARIOUS scene. I refer to it as the holy sheet 8%.

And while they "Netflix and chill" and try to keep it light, they're drawn to each other. Nothing major heavy, nothing too serious. And it was a pleasure to read. I think that was the magic of Adulting 101. It's relatable, it's funny, it has some honest moments. But the way Nick and Jai realize their fuck-ship is something more without making it too crazy, that was my favorite. New Adult is a fave genre and I think the author captured all the great key elements to make this work. (The texting was an excellent touch)

The side characters, though? Dude, they were excellent. For serious. Everyone one of them from the codependent BFF Devon, to the entire Hazenbrook family (down to the littlest one, Noah) to Chris' dad. he might come off as a pencildick at times but he meant well.

There are hot moments, especially when they were interrupted. Especially the interruptions [Pretends to ignore my exhibitionist kink] And the laughs were a great balance. I'm not a fan of books that try too hard to be funny. This book read closer to effortless than not.

And the ending? I was a little worried the more I got into the novel. I really got into Nick's head, I sympathized and have been there in his shoes. I think we all have...except for those types who know exactly what they're going to do for every damn thing, But it couldn't have ended any more perfect for Nick and Jai. It's a solid HFN.

I think Nick and Jai passed Adulting 101 with an A.

Fun, light, with a sprinkling of realism...couldn't have asked for anything more.

Sheziss - 3.5 Hearts

It’s so hard to make a comedy. There are plenty of comedies, I know. And they are also popular.

I appreciate fun, seriously.

However, most of the times it’s just my mind the one who smiles. Sometimes my lips do.

But that’s all about it.

I’m usually this grumpy girl when everybody is obviously having a great time.

Maybe I just giggle on my own accord because I want to disconnect. But it doesn’t come from within me with full force.

I love to laugh. I really do. But very very very few times a book (or a movie) manages to make me laugh.

Laugh for real.

I often smile but I very rarely burst out laughing.

Well, in this book I laughed so hard I thought the veins in the eye would explode.

Nick is so authentic. His portrayal as this eighteen-year-old Peter Pan with a mind full of crazy ideas and a blatantly absence of mouth filter is very well built and endearing. A combination that gets out of hand more often than not.

Jai has an incredible ass and that’s reason enough for Nick to get to him and offer a BJ just after they exchange names. Best decision ever, because now he has a boyfriend fuck buddy.

Or worst, because they both lose their jobs.

And Jai desperately needs a job. He only stays in town for the summer. The rest of the year, he prepares his backpack and disappears. Sort of Mary Poppins.

And Nick desperately needs to forget college is coming in September. Because everything ends then: his childhood, his co-dependent relationship with his soul mate Devon, and it all comes down to clear a path to uncertainty and… adulthood.

But hey, it’s going to be the best summer ever. September is so far away.

This is the winner quote for me:

Jai shouldn’t keep looking, but he can’t help himself. He also should have known better than to open the notebook Nick accidentaly left behind, but he’s too shocked to castigate himself over that right now. He can’t stop turning the pages.

Holy shit.

Jai’s Ass: A sonnet (abandoned)
Jai’s ass is like the most incredible thing
I want to do things to it with my mouth
I look at it and heaps of angels sing
And (something that rhymes with mouth goes where)

He flips to the next page and discovers a limerick.

There once was a man called Jai
Who was the world’s most hottest guy
And I’m shit out of luck
If we never fuck
I’ll scream “Why Jesus why Jesus why???????

(Have you seen me with the kindle of my face trying to hold my intestines with my hand? Damn, I thought the laughs were going to make serious damage.)

Yes, the book is hilarious. I don’t remember the last time I laughed this hard, maybe that movie about vampires sharing home in New Zealand, What We Do in the Shadows. Although I must admit that Klune also can bring me joy.

Whatever, there was no chance of my attention being drawn by anything else for long. This was too much!

There are many references to fantasy/epic movies and pop culture. Not snob or picky enough to be really challenging, so I’m glad I understood them all: The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Matrix, The Avengers, Pokemon… and David Lynch. The only one that was a true miss for me was Attack on Titan.

Adulting is so hard!

Adulting is really hard.

When that girl says she wants to be a Pediatric Surgeon I laughed out loud.

I’ve been like that, too.

Multiple times.

How can people be so sure what they want to do even before they have started?

Oh, I understand jealousy, they are all so sure what they can to do and how they are going to do it and how capable they all are to make it real. Lots of confidence? Or lack of such? Self-overrating? Or just dreams that won’t come true? Or will they after all?

I liked seeing how these doubts chew on Nick’s mind and fly around him like vultures. The clock is making “tick tack” sounds and everybody expects a reaction from him, a decision, a choice. Even not choosing is a choice by itself, and the consequences are unthinkable.

He cannot think.

But Jai is also “stuck” in his own way. He is 25 but still hasn’t settle on something, whatever that is. He began travelling to leave everything behind, but now he does it because he likes it. Despite this, he’s not as sure about his future as his attitude implies.

As someone told me: God has a tendency to laugh at people’s plans.

Or plainly: Life gives many turns.

So, once we have established the sense of humor made it for me, I’d like to say I expected more development of the relationship. There is a step from liking each other to liking-liking each other, and an abrupt one at that. Also, the step from liking-liking to love is missing. The book finishes with the promise of a HEA, but not a HEA per se. They start as friends with benefits and somewhere along the way they become boyfriends, but I couldn’t feel that transition for real. I feel there is chemistry, in and out of the bed, and the comfort and joy they find when they are together, but not much beyond that.

However, I could really feel the need for Nick to be with his BFF Devon at all times. If Devon was gay, that would be an amazing love story.

I couldn’t bring myself to really care about that.

Anyway, I conclude Lisa Henry can write everything. I got to know her with her contemporary BDSM facet, but then I tasted her historical flavor and later I dared with her sci-fi installsments. However, most of them are within the limits of the dark and the heavy. I had to see if she could deal with a lighter mood as well.

Well, after this demonstration, she aces in everything under the sun.

In my opinion, there is little she can’t do, she’s a very complete writer, and she demonstrates this once again in a coming-of-age comedy in which the laughs are guaranteed.

I really recommend this one.

Add on Goodreads!


  1. I so can not wait to read this book. I am totally power reading my book now so I can finish lol!!