“Adulting 101” by Lisa Henry

Another queer NetGalley read today, which comes out on 15th August 2016. I requested this on a whim, but realised after reading it that I actually read a book by this author a couple of weeks ago — I just didn’t notice until I reached the author bio and realised it sounded familiar. So that was a fun coincidence.

Please note that as this is an ARC, any quotes in this review may not be final!

adulting 101

Release date: August 15th, 2016

I wasn’t at all sure if I was going to like this — the early chapters focused a lot on the kind of sexual attraction stuff that I just don’t relate to, because I’m too ace for that. Fortunately, Nick was a hugely entertaining dork who constantly cracked me up, and by the time I’d stopped laughing at him I was invested in the rest of it, which resulted in me enjoying it a lot more than I expected.

I adored Nick’s friendship/bromance with Devon, as it was super cute and wonderful and glorious. Honestly, it was one of my favourite friendships ever.

Their bromance is epic. Devon even took Nick to prom, which was beyond incredible because he’s not even a little bit bi

To be honest, Devon is just generally wonderful. He’s a beautiful cinammon roll who is trying his hardest to be a good guy — he spends half the book having a gradual feminist awakening as he attempts to avoid dudebroing, which wasn’t subtle, but was refreshing as well as entertaining.

Devon’s too scared to make a move because he’s been crippled by the weight of his male privilege. He only discovered it a few months ago, and it’s shaken him up pretty badly.

I want a friend like Devon.

The main relationship in the book is between Nick, who is eighteen, and Jai, who is twenty-five. I was a bit worried about this age gap because obviously, there’s a huge difference between an 18-year-old and a 25-year-old when it comes to life experience, even if it’s not illegal or anything. However, the characters acknowledged it and didn’t pretend it wasn’t there. It ended up not being creepy the way it could have been; while I wasn’t entirely on board from the beginning, it did win me over. There are some very sweet moments towards the end in particular that even as a romance-hating weirdo seemed cute.

I’ll confess that the explicit aspects of the book didn’t do it for me — I’m too ace, too disintersted in men, too weirded out by all that stuff. However, it didn’t make me overly uncomfortable the way some sex scenes do (most of the time), and I think it was reasonably well-written and not awkward compared to some stuff I’ve come across, so yay, I guess? Sorry guys. Reviewing sex scenes is definitely not my forte.

My favourite thing about the book has to be the humour, which was a great blend of nerdy awkwardness and general banter. I found myself grinning through half the book, even though it was late at night and I hadn’t planned to start the book until the next day. When something’s that funny, it’s hard not to win me over — I love things that make me laugh. It might not be for everyone, but I liked it a lot.

Unexpectedly, though, Nick was a super relatable character (sexual attraction aside). He’s about to go to college and he’s freaking out. He doesn’t want to go, but he doesn’t know what else to do either. And I know that feel way too well. I wasn’t that uncertain before I went to university, but having taken time out, I’m definitely identifying with those feelings as I contemplate going back.

Like Radio Silence, which I reviewed a little while back, this struck a lot of chords with how I’ve been feeling towards the future, as well as the present:

He’s never told them that sometimes he’s not just dodging his responsibilities because he’s lazy and forgetful. Sometimes he lies awake all night thinking about them, until they grow so large in his mind that he just … can’t.

That could definitely be a description of me.

Or this feeling of being overwhelmed by the real world:

He wanted to be an unlikely hero and do something that mattered, but there are no quests in the real world, where everything is much bigger and more tangled and complex than in the stories he loves. In the real world, small people don’t get to be heroes, and Nick is the smallest person he knows.

Tell me about it, bro.

There seems to be a theme in books I’ve read recently that a character will inevitably make some reference to Catcher in the Rye, which is possibly my least favourite book ever. The ones that insult Holden Caulfield amuse me:

He’s like Holden Caulfield, but at least ten times more annoying. And also he doesn’t have a cool hat. But other than that they could be twins. Whining little bitch twins.

I actually felt Nick was a lot less annoying than Holden Caulfield, a lot less pretentious, and a lot more relatable. But there we go. That’s the second Catcher reference this week.

It’s sort of comforting to see so many characters feeling the same way I do about the future and university and so on, but it’s sort of scary too, as they keep deciding not to go to uni and I don’t think I’m ready to take that step. However, it definitely meant I identified with and could understand Nick more than I was expecting to.

Now if only I had a friend like Devon…

Rating: ****

 

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