Monday, August 31, 2015

Book Review: Behind the Scenes (Daylight Falls #1) by Dahlia Adler

Release date: June 24, 2014
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Age group: YA
Pages: 328
Purchase the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

High school senior Ally Duncan's best friend may be the Vanessa Park - star of TV's hottest new teen drama - but Ally's not interested in following in her BFF's Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally's ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father's mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van's on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors' publicist arranges for Van and Liam to "date" for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she's capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can't play by Hollywood's rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

 Behind the Scenes is one of those books, now that I have finished it, that totally has earned its place on the "MILKA WHY ARE YOU AN IDIOT AND DID NOT READ THIS ONE EARLIER?" list. It has been on my Gooreads to-read list since I first heard about in 2014 and I have had a copy of it for months now, but for some reason, it took me over a year after its publication to pick it up. Silly, silly me.

I have always loved the "ordinary person-celebrity" dynamic in books and movies. For some reason, it just really works for me. As someone who is quite obsessed with several celebrities, I think I find pleasure in reading stories about famous people who might seem like douches but who actually are vulnerable and nice and honest and funny and so so so so hot. Day dreaming about meeting people like Sidney Crosby (only one of the best hockey players in the whole world) or John Krasinski (Jim Halpert 5ever) and falling in love with them still takes quite a lot of my time (too much?), which means that when I am faced with a story about similar situation, I am instantly excited. 

Ally is no stranger to the buzz of Hollywood. Her best friend Van has been acting for years and on her side, Ally has met celebrities, attended celeb filled parties and walked red carpets. Though Ally is 100% supportive of Van's desire to act, she does it as desirable for herself to be surrounded by the prying eye of the paparazzi and fans. What has kept their friendship strong is a shared past and the fact that they are not jealous of each other. But when Van learns that she can been cast to play the lead role in a new teen show Daylight Falls, things soon start to unravel. Van hires Ally, desperate to earn money for college, as her assistant and on the set, Ally meets Liam, the male star of the show and a renowned Hollywood heart-throb. The connection between Ally and Liam soon starts to get closer as they spend more time together, but the budding relationship gets bruised when Liam and Van, as a publicity stunt, are paired together and Ally is made to look at their faked happiness from a close proximity. 

From the very first pages onwards, I started to quickly fall in love with the way Dahlia Adler writes her female characters. First of all, there's diversity. Van is of Korean heritage, which makes her a "rare" leading lady in the very whitewashed world of Hollywood entertainment. I loved the way Adler had incorporated this aspect to the novel, reminding the reader of the very real and current problem facing Hollywood casting. The fact that Van is cast in a role designed for a white girl is empowering and adds an important note of diversity to the story without the novel turning into a book about diversity. I also loved the fact that Adler's Van and Ally are both flawed and quite complicated characters. Van is so wrapped up in her world of fame that at points she does not seem to realize that not everyone is interested about her fame. At the same time though, Van is also shown as a character who is willing to miss the big celeb parties or important events when her friend needs her. Though Ally is supportive of Van, she is quick to judge anyone and everyone who is famous. She can see Van as just her friend, but when anyone else is who famous and gorgeous and loved by the masses tries to come close, she instantly thinks those people are assholes and full of themselves. She is quick to insist that she is completely happy in her own world of normalcy, but starts to get jealous when it seems like in order for her to be with Liam, she would have to fit in to a world that is very different from her own. At the same time though, Ally is a loving daughter and sister and a loyal friend. She also is able to acknowledge her mistakes and learn from them, which in my opinion makes her very real.

Both Van and Ally can be quite catty and might not always think what they say or do, but I think that also adds a level of realism to the story. Think of yourself as a teenager - were you always perfect and controlled and calm, especially when it came to boys? I don't think so. The way Adler gives voices to these characters is so well done that I am still catching my breath. 

This novel really has everything I love in a YA contemporary novel! It has a friendship that is loving and strong and evolves through the novel as a result of a collection of events, a family story that affects the decisions and the mindset of the main character and those around her, and a romance between two people who are clearly very good for each other. Despite the fact that it is set in Hollywood, were a lot of things are very unrealistic for a "common" reader, the story is able to retain a level of realism and never made me think like things like that just don't happen to "normal" people. Adler's way of writing is engaging and extremely hilarious, and I couldn't help but to fall in love with her wonderful set of characters.

I highly recommend Behind the Scenes for everyone and ask you not to be as silly as me and keep this hanging on your TBRs. Read it now because it really is quite an amazing book!

1 comment:

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