Under the Lights

Finished Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.  (Note: This is the publishing company I work for but this is not one of my books.)

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.”

This is my first Dahlia Adler book (I KNOW) and as someone who’s a huge fan of contemp YA, that’s kind of an embarrassing admission.  This one is right on the line between YA and NA (okay, granted, definitely more NA than YA), and is also all kinds of awesome.

I was reading this and it’s weird how nice it was to see myself (gay) reflected in a love story.  And I’m 35.  So I can’t imagine how nice it is for people who are 19 or 20 to see themselves reflected.  And it’s weird; it’s not something I really think about that often.  It’s something that really only comes up when I DO read f/f love stories.  And it’s like, oh yeah, this is actually awesome.  (When I first came out, I went through a year or two where the vast majority of what I read was gay fiction but it stopped pretty quickly because, as nice as it was to see me in a novel, it was also less than fun because the writing and editing tended to be not great.)

Fortunately now even major publishing houses are releasing diverse books, and the writing is definitely much better.  (Kids today, man.  THEY HAVE IT SO EASY.)

I absolutely love Vanessa and her love story with Bri.  And I love the way that Dahlia Adler didn’t take the obvious story (Vanessa and Josh hate each other.  UNTIL THEY DON’T AND NOW THEY ARE IN LOVE).

Highly recommended.

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