Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars
Narrator: Nick J. Russo
Length: 6 hours, 1 minute
Nick has one final summer before college, but he hasn’t made any real plans. Well, he has a job in a construction office that his father arranged for him and the highlight of his day is watching Jai Hazenbrook, one the construction workers. Nick’s father wants him to take on more responsibility, but dropping to his knees in a porta-potty for Jai isn’t quite adulting at its finest. Nick has no idea what he wants to do with his future and doesn’t get how some of his classmates seem to have it all figured out, but losing his v-card to Jai is definitely high on his list of summer activities.
At twenty-five, Jai is older than Nick, but his hormones work just fine and who is he to turn down Nick’s offer. Yet, things don’t go according to plan, if there was a plan. Jai’s only goal was to work for the summer and make some money so he can once again get out of small town Ohio as he travels the world for nine months out of the year. Meeting a teenager with no filter and no experience with men wasn’t the adventure he had planned, but sometimes a new friendship, a new boyfriend, could be waiting much closer to home.
Adulting 101 offers an entertaining look at a coming-of-age summer romance. Only it wasn’t supposed to be a romance. It was supposed to be a casual friends-with-benefits deal between Nick and Jai. Nick is somewhat immature, but it’s to Henry’s credit that she did indeed keep him on the side of entertaining as he’s finding his way.
Nick lacks a filter and his only real plan is to figure how to get Jai to notice him. He knows college is coming, yet he’s not overly excited about it. He has no idea what he wants to study and the thought of being separated from his BFF, Devon, that he has a serious bromance going with, leaves him completely unsettled. He wants his parents to treat him as an adult, yet he gets himself into all kinds of messes and then fibs his way out of them so adulting is not coming easy to him. When Jai shows an interest in Nick, that’s about all he can and wants to think about.
Jai left town after high school and after his father died. The only plan he has is to keep traveling until he figures out what’s next, but he’s not overly concerned with figuring it out. Having a regular hook up buddy over the summer is a definite advantage, but feelings weren’t supposed to enter into it and he finds himself falling for Nick. Jai is shown as just a good guy and he is incredibly patient with Nick’s ramblings and lack of experience. The guys, however, can’t seem to get much privacy and while they are not always in the most private of locations, they consistently keep a track record of exposing themselves publicly in one entertaining, yet cringe worthy escapade after the other.
The story offers both Nick and Jai’s POV, but the story is mostly Nick’s with Jai more along for the ride, but it’s through Jai that we see another side of Nick. The secondary characters round things out with Jai’s family that offer some background on him, as well as Nick’s family, which shows that despite Nick’s protests he might be looking for some guidance from them, and Nick’s best friend Devon. Nick and Devon have quite a close relationship and perhaps it seemed unrealistic at times for their age, but Devon was yet another person that saw promise in Nick despite how Nick himself felt that he was floundering. I would have preferred a little more character description as the majority of Jai’s character revolves around how hot Nick, and everyone else, thinks he is. But, other then some poetry that Nick writes to praise Jai’s best asset, there wasn’t much in the way of descriptions offered as to what these guys looked like and they became harder to picture. The middle of the story kinda lagged for me and the ending was more predictable than I wanted it to be.
In the end, Henry captures the feel of Nick trying to move from one phase of life to the next when he really feels that he has no idea what he’s doing. It’s really the story of that one special summer, but don’t let the blurb fool you, as there are a few feelings mixed in there too even if the guys didn’t intend to have any.
Nick J. Russo brings this story to life with his cadence and overall delivery. The first two chapters, as we meet Nick, had some laugh out loud moments and that’s not just a tag line. Russo takes license with everything from the tone of text messages, to the sound of Nick’s stapler as he’s bored at work and those details elevated the performance. Russo’s strength, for me, is not in different character voices, but in the overall delivery. The guys all sounded different enough in a general sense but Russo’s narrative voice tends to overshadow the performance. The voices of the female characters also didn’t add much to the story for me. I have listened to many of Russo’s performances and he does tend to mispronounce words in many of his narrations, which I heard again here as well. But, overall, you can always expect an above average performance from Russo as he captures the tone of this story well. Adulting 101 is an entertaining coming of age story that I would recommend in either the ebook or audio version.