March 1, 2015

BEHIND THE SCENES by Dahlia Adler (A Long Overdue Review)

Let me start by saying that I have always loved the whole non-famous person + famous person romance in books and movies. Heck, I was raised on Cinderella and other tales like it, so I've been lapping it up my whole life. BEHIND THE SCENES delivers this same sort of scenario with a whole lot of swoon, which makes it an instant win in my books. But there’s so much more to it than just that. Here’s what I loved about BtS:

I liked that Ally wasn’t completely star struck when she got to go “behind the scenes” of bestie Van’s TV show. She’d been friends with Vanessa for years, so that did give her an inside look at all of the not-so-glamorous aspects of fame, but even so, it was a relief to not see her go gaga on set. She regularly rubs shoulders with celebs, but you never get the sense that she considers this something to be used to her advantage. Ally working on set had everything to do with helping Van out and making college possible, not cozying up to the show’s stars. That just happened to be a side bonus she wasn’t expecting or seeking.

Ally and Van’s friendship was one of my favourite parts of BtS. It isn’t all smooth sailing, of course, but it never treads into frenemy territory either. Feuding friends are normal in YA, but I never once found myself asking why the heck these two were even friends in the first place. Their relationship is tough at times given Van’s celeb status and all that that entails, but throw in the whole actress/assistant dynamic with a side order of secret romance with your bestie’s very public boyfriend and BAM, you’ve got some serious challenges to face. I enjoyed watching these two push through it all.

I often have a tough time with books featuring a parent with cancer—particularly a dad—having been down that road myself. Dahlia handled this storyline especially well, and I found myself looking forward to those scenes between Ally and her dad, despite the hospital room setting. It got me right in the feels every time they were on the page together. But then I loved moments with Ally and her mom and sister as well.

As someone who has studied French my whole life, I loved the tidbits with Ally tutoring Liam and the two of them swapping French phrases. The swoon between these two was strong, my friends. Being forced to keep their romance private provides great conflict and a certain amount of risk that makes it that much hotter. Their relationship was flawed, which only made it more believable. With the added challenge of a fake, very public relationship between Liam and Van, you’ve got no shortage of obstacles in the way of Ally and Liam’s happy ending. I loved these two so much! And a word about Liam: He is that great combo of Good Guy who isn’t perfect but is never the Bad Boy who needs reforming. I’m so over Bad Boy, let me tell you, so Liam was basically everything with a chaser of great abs.

As a reader, I could relate to Ally’s insecurities without them constantly being a THING, if you know what I mean. They didn’t centre around her non-star status or a bad case of “not worthy”-itis. You would think this might happen a lot given the non-star hobnobbing with stars angle, but this story never strays into normal girl with a certain je ne sais quoi that has been done to death territory. Sure, the fact that she isn’t famous is in the back of Ally’s mind, but it doesn’t become the thing the story revolves around. Ally deals with some heavy stuff—her dad’s illness and the impact this has on her family, working as an assistant to Van in a world that is pretty cutthroat just be able to pay for college—and yet she’s still very much a teen. Things like going to prom, being able to go to college, falling in love for the first time all remind us that she’s a teen with similar dreams to other kids her age. All of this makes her completely relatable.

Dahlia Adler has such a great sense of humour and this really shines through in this book. There were many points while I was reading that I’d burst out laughing at one thing or another. I love humour and great voice, and this book definitely delivers both in spades along with a romance you’ll root for right until the final page is turned. Definitely give this one a read! You'll be happy to know that Daylight Falls #2, UNDER THE LIGHTS, is out this June and features both Van and Josh!

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