Author: Lisa Henry
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 08/15/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Bisexual, Contemporary, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Gay Romance, Humor/Comedy, New Adult, Romance
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.
So, Nick and Devon are best friends, besties – they definitely qualify for this moniker. Nick has no filter, Devon loves him anyway. Nick loves Devon for this, and his ability to be honest about Nick’s talent for dropping bits of chaos everywhere he goes.
Jai is home for the summer only, working to fund the rest of the year when he travels all over the world. He isn’t one to let the grass grow under those wandering feet.
Jai is also the target of Nick’s… attention. And he doesn’t exactly hate it, either. Hmmmm, what’s in store for these two? Probably not what you expect. This is Lisa Henry we’re talking about here, the usual path is often not taken by her characters.
Jai can’t hold back the laugh that bursts out of him, half amusement and half horror. By rights he should feel outraged… but it’s also hilarious. Nick is insane. He has to be insane. Who does this? More to the point, should this be raising any red flags? Because it’s not. As much as Jai tries to imagine Nick as some creepy stalker, he can’t. Nick’s too… awkward? Hopeless? Ridiculous?
Questions for the ages? Maybe, maybe not. But they are pertinent questions when it comes to Nick. Ya gotta hand it to this 18-yr old, he demonstrates a large amount of bravery between moments of great confusion and uncertainty, particularly in relation to what he wants to do with the rest of his life.
This story is sweet. And funny. And it had me smiling often. Nothing incredibly heavy or angsty is contemplated, at least not for any length of time. Instead, Henry does one of the things she’s so good at: using a mere few words to ask a question or posit a theory about what it means to be a human being, how challenging it is, how rewarding and heartbreaking, especially for Nick as he tries to navigate that strange gap between childhood and adulthood.
She uses what initially appears to be a summer fling between Nick and Jai to pose those very questions and theories.
The friendship between Nick and Devon is just as important to this story. To say these two balance each other out is, well, the very definition of a balancing act in the form of best friends. The reason it works is that they agree on how their friendship functions, reveling in the sanctuary and support it provides, while still playing the role of honest sounding board for each other. Every time they shared a scene, it was so easy for me to picture endless possibilities for their future and their friendship. It’s one of those that will last the ages. And of course, this means they share a sense of humor that tooooooootally works and had me giggling. Giggling!
For as much as we’re told about Nick, Jai, and even Devon, and their families and histories, it still felt like I didn’t always have a handle on their motivations. Well, in terms of Jai and Devon, anyway. Nick, I got to know him very well. grins And I understood just about every one of his reactions, decisions, and… indecisions.
As usual, Lisa Henry’s writing is emotion-inducing, silly, and manages to inject naked truths about life. Her approach to and presentation of Nick are spot on. Devon and Jai are a little less successful, but it’s difficult to compete with Nick as a character. I will say that Jai evoked quite the level of emotion from me. It was so easy to connect to the dreams, doubts, tears and fears of these people. I let out many a ‘Yes!’ and accompanying fist pump.
Also? Major points for the cultural references! A nerd’s geeky slice o’ nirvana, this be. Star Wars FTW! There’s even a mention of the tentacle sex. 😉
I want there to be a next summer, too!
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
One random commenter with thoughtful, relevant comments will win a $25 gift certificate each month in 2016.
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