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Under the Lights: A Daylight Falls Novel Paperback – June 30, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—This Hollywood coming-of-age story follows two secondary characters from Adler's Behind the Scenes (Spencer Hill, 2014) as they encounter personal turmoil that leads to self-discovery. Josh Chester, fast-living playboy, and Vanessa Park, squeaky-clean Korean American star of a popular teen drama, become unlikely allies as they reconcile the demands of life in the public eye with shifting personal desires. Josh reveals a level of vulnerability as the high life palls and his dysfunctional family disintegrates, while Vanessa careens from contemplating a purity pledge with her boy-band sweetheart to coming out as lesbian. While the author laudably highlights racial bias in Hollywood and offers a rare portrayal of a gay Asian teen, these positives are offset by the insubstantial and inauthentic feel of the Park parents who speak in a strangely stilted manner. They and other background characters never feel fully fleshed out. Many early chapters consist of repetitive interpersonal conflicts and internal dialogue; reluctant readers may not persist to the later chapters where the action picks up. The book suffers from few sensory descriptions of the physical setting, leaving it bereft of a sense of place. The strong language, drinking, drugs, and explicit sexual content generally feel appropriate for the context. VERDICT An additional purchase; good where light celebrity fiction is popular or the first book had an audience.—Laura Simeon, Open Window School Library, WA
"Summer reading at its finest." - RT Book Reviews
"Adler explores coming out and being a minority in a cutthroat industry, deftly weaving both threads together to show their intersectionality. A positive, empowering coming-of-age that lifts the veil hanging over queerness in YA." - Leah Raeder, USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable and Black Iris
“Behind the Scenes is sweet, sexy, and satisfying. Once you start reading, you won’t want to stop!” - Review of author's previous book(Trish Doller, author of Where the Stars Still Shine)
“Behind the Scenes keeps the promise of its title, ushering readers backstage in a Hollywood romance they won’t want to leave. I loved this book every bit as much as I expected.” -Review of author's previous book (Jennifer Echols, author of Biggest Flirts and Dirty Little Secret)
“Adler pens a story that is both fun and thoughtful, making it the perfect summer read. Captivating and enchanting, I can't wait to see what she does next!!” - Review of author's previous book (Rachel Harris, author of The Fine Art of Pretending)
Josh Chester has a reputation in Hollywood for being the good looking, irresistibly charming bad boy. Vanessa Park is a Korean American actor trying to convince her parents that acting is a legitimate career while also proving to directors that Asian actors can play more than medical students. When Josh and Vanessa meet on the set of a tv show, sparks fly. But, in a welcomed twist, Adler’s follow-up to Behind the Scenes (2014) isn’t about a relationship between Josh and Vanessa; it’s about the ever-more-steamy romance between Vanessa and her agent’s assistant, Brianna. In a sharp narrative alternating between Josh and Vanessa’s points-of-view, Adler tackles important issues, such as race, coming out, and bisexual erasure. This entertaining same-sex romance against the thrilling escapism of a Hollywood backdrop still manages to be thought-provoking, and will certainly please fans of the series opener. Though some characters from the first book make appearances here, this installment can easily stand on its own. Recommend to readers who like their romances a little more thoughtful. ― Erin Linsenmeyer(Booklist)
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Top customer reviews
I liked Vanessa in Behind the Scenes. I loved her in this book, even in the moments where I wanted to yell at her for what kinda seemed like playing with Brianna's feelings. On closer look, however, she wasn't doing it consciously. She really was just that conflicted about the things she was feeling. With her upbringing, it wasn't easy to admit she might be gay. She was struggling to come to terms with so much during this book – her own personal truth, her career, growing up and being on her own. Who hasn't faced at least one of these struggles at some point? It was because of that, if not her sexuality, that I found it easy to connect with her. I loved her journey and her character growth as she accepted herself.
The other half of this story was Josh's. Oh, I had some mixed feelings about Josh along the way. He came off as such a self-centered, spoiled jerk in the first book, it was a little tougher to get me on his side. But, it happened sooner or later. He was facing his own issues in this book and, while I don't think his character growth was quite as impressive as Vanessa's, I appreciate it for what it was and I don't want to diminish it. I think he has a little further to go – and I'd love to catch up with him in a few months to see his progression – but he certainly won me over. I saw a whole new side of him in this book, one that was more vulnerable and honest. I liked it.
Under the Lights was a fantastic read. I couldn't get through it fast enough and, once I was finished, I desperately wished I had read more slowly or that there was more to the story. But, not because it was incomplete. Because I adored these characters and just wished for more. What we did get more of, however, was Ally and Liam, who are facing brand new issues in this book as she's away at school and he's working. That was, honestly, a little unsettling because I liked them so much. But, it was also real. Long distance relationships are hard under normal circumstances. When you're dating a celebrity and you're on opposite coasts? There are bound to be troubles.
This book is classified as young adult, but I would definitely say that, with the issues it takes on, it's absolutely on the upper end of YA and almost new adult. I think it will easily appeal to readers of both genres, too. Under the Lights gets all the stars from me. I wish I could give more than five, as a matter of fact. It was real, raw and beautiful.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
I put off reading this book for so long because I couldn't decide if I wanted an e-copy to match Behind The Scenes or a physical copy so I could have a book with two girls in a tender position on the cover on my shelf. Really sorry I waited so long (I went with e-copy) because this book is phenomenal. Dahlia Adler is a gifted writer, and she really tugged my heartstrings with this one.
The heart of the story is Vanessa and Bri's relationship as Van slowly realizes she's gay. Every moment they're together on the page is flirty and fun and sweet.
I also really enjoyed Josh's story - he's the kind of guy I would hate in real life, but I'm a sucker for a-holes in fiction who acknowledge how lost and isolated they are. His budding friendship with Van was very endearing to me.
I really want to see more F/F like this in YA.
This book is a must read for anyone, but I would certainly recommend it to teen girls who may be coming into their sexuality or struggling to find women of color in their reading.
Brianna – I love Bri’s confidence, and her honestly and directness is refreshing in a teen-drama novel.
Fun Author Fact
Dahlia Adler wrote a draft of Under the Lights for NaNoWriMo. In the original draft, the novel was written from three character’s points of view: Liam, Vanessa, and Josh. Needless to say, Liam’s POV was scrapped from the book before the final publication.
Is this worth a book hangover?
Under the Lights is a fun, refreshing read about Hollywood. This is definitely a book that can be finished during a day on the beach, a long car ride, or a rainy afternoon. It’s note quite hangover worthy to me, but definitely fun!
Read These Next
Behind the Scenes is on my list! This is the companion novel for Under the Lights – and tells a story about a teen superstar and an assistant falling in love under the drama of Hollywood.