Series: Daylight Falls #2
Published by Spencer Hill Contemporary on June 30, 2015
Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents' wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls ... opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he's trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he's in the spotlight—on everyone's terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.
Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents' disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she's painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van's life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she'll have to choose between the one thing she's always loved ... and the person she never imagined she could.
I am picky when it comes to contemporary. Very, very picky. I originally picked up UNDER THE LIGHTS because I knew it had a girl/girl relationship, and those are all too rare in YA/NA.
By the way, this is the second book in a series, but you don’t need to have read the first, BEHIND THE SCENES, because UNDER THE LIGHTS is Vanessa and Josh’s story, not Ally and Liam’s.
I got that relationship and so much more. Honestly, I was surprised at how deftly the author wove in many big important things, including:
♥ Diversity. Vanessa is Korean American. She’s part of the main cast for Daylight Falls — not to fulfill a racial quota, but because she’s a good actress. Her parents want her to quit playing around and go to college, get a real job. But she wants to be an idol to girls just like her. So when she realizes she’s attracted to Brianna, and that she might be gay…
♥ Sexuality. Vanessa’s not so sure she can survive in Hollywood being a minority and being gay. Parts just don’t exist when you fit into those slots. As it is, she’s typecast in movies as the med student or science nerd. Her boyfriend, Zander, has never made her tingle like Bri does, and he’s pushing for her to make a purity pledge so they can be even better role models. Meanwhile, Josh, the other main character, makes no apologies that he likes to have sex with a different girl every night. His sexuality is praised — a reality TV show wants to follow him around.
♥ Celebrity culture and expectations. Josh’s mom, an aging soap star, wants a reality TV show to replace her canceled show. The only condition? Her famous bad boy son must be a part of it. It’s totally okay for him to be a jerk to his fake girlfriend and woo girls in clubs. But for Vanessa? It’s not okay for her to even be seen in a club — it goes against her good girl image.
There’s so much good stuff in UNDER THE LIGHTS. I loved the author’s voices for both characters and her writing style. I was in a reading slump when I started this book, and it helped pull me out. On one level, UNDER THE LIGHTS is fun and includes some very yummy scenes between Vanessa and Bri — including a non fade-to-black sex scene. On another level, UNDER THE LIGHTS has great commentary and observations on so many important cultural and life issues.
UNDER THE LIGHTS has so much of what I want to see in YA and NA that I’ll be recommending the hell out of it. And reading everything else Dahlia Adler writes.
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