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Under the Lights: A Daylight Falls Novel by…
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Under the Lights: A Daylight Falls Novel

by Dahlia Adler

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It's a nice quick YA read -- with diversity! It's not much in the way of a deep, thought-provoking story, and the writing is simple, but it's good for what it is. ( )
  majesdane | Aug 8, 2017 |
If you're reading for the lesbian content, don't bother. Half the story is about young actress Vanessa Park, struggling to make a place for herself in Hollywood as an Asian-American actress, prove herself to her entirely stereotypical and one-dimensional Korean parents, and discover what her newfound attraction to a female friend means. The other half is the endless ramblings of "Hollywood bad boy" Josh Chester, who throws extravagant parties at his Malibu beach house and treats women like one-use sex toys. But don't worry! If you can sit through the entirety of this tiresome novel, you'll get to see Josh's redemption as a ~flawed but lovable~ character! As for the lesbian storyline, it's nothing that hasn't been better done by other YA authors.
  csoki637 | Nov 27, 2016 |
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Recommended?: YES. If you haven’t read this already, DO IT NOW. It is wonderful, thoughtful, sweet, romantic, sexy, funny – it is just great, and Van is the greatest. Highly, highly recommended.

Review:

I did not know this was the second book in a series until I’d already started reading, so if you haven’t read the first book, don’t let that stop you. UNDER THE LIGHTS is a wonderful story told in alternating chapters by Josh and Vanessa. Josh is not my favorite narrator; he’s standard pretty white boy, obnoxious, sexist, racist, and constantly being an asshole just because he can. If the story had just been his, I never would have finished it.

But the story isn’t his, and his issues fade to the background against the brightness of Vanessa Park. VANESSA PARK. I have hearts and stars in my eyes when talking about her. She is one of my favorite characters, ever, and her story grabbed me and would not let go.

At the heart of it, UNDER THE LIGHTS is the story of both Van and Josh dealing with their insecurities and loneliness, the ways the fail their families and their families fail them, and how complicated life is when you’re in the spotlight. Both their stories are well told, though Josh’s issues do not make up for his attitude for me, but Van’s is particularly close to my heart, because Van is dealing with a shock to her sexuality when she’s never even questioned it before.

Adler creates strong, realistic characters in this book, fleshed out, well rounded, and wonderful. They are nuanced, smart and funny and flawed. I particularly love the various friendships, stronger at times, weaker others, and honestly, Josh’s growing friendship with Van is the only thing that made him interesting to me. One of the things I didn’t like was that though the main characters and supporting secondary characters are fleshed out, there are some tertiary characters, particularly the girls in Josh’s part of the story, that are stereotypical and flat in really horrible, disappointing ways. Do we need another “bitchy mean girl”? Nope.

But Van. Van is the greatest. Van and her new friend Brianna who sparks confusing romantic feelings and Van dealing with her bff being across the country and Van dealing with her family and the way people come to mean more to us than we expect and the way we create families around us – Van is amazing and her story is wonderful and my heart filled with love for her. I love how her story deals with the racism she faces, particularly in what acting jobs are offered to her, and the sexism inherent in how bad boys and bad girls are treated. I love how the racism and sexism she deals with influences how she responds to realizing she’s queer, both internally and externally. Every step of her journey made me love her more.

There’s a little bit of fat hate going on, too, (though “hate” is really too strong a word) which on the one hand, can be expected when the story is set in a world so focused on physical appearance (oh, wait, the real world? Well now), but there was some stuff about Brianna’s poochy little belly and how she doesn’t feel comfortable showing off her body because she’s “St. Louis thin” not “L.A. thin”. Realistic, sure. Frustrating, yes.

Van. Have I mentioned how much I love Van? Because I love her a lot, and I’m so glad I got to read her story. She’s a joy and a delightful forever. Highly recommend UNDER THE LIGHTS just for her. Everything else good about it is a bonus, because she’s just wonderful. UNDER THE LIGHTS is a fun, funny, emotional read, and Van is an amazing character. ( )
  carlamlee | Aug 1, 2015 |
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