Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Release Date: June 24th, 2014
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.
"I love this book. I really enjoyed it, and it's incredibly well-written. I highly recommend this book..."

If I couldn't say anything else, I would just say READ THIS BOOK and shove it in your face. But thankfully for you, I can say something else and elaborate. ;)

With all this talk about diversity in books lately (and always), I love how Behind the Scenes is diverse in many ways. The most obvious one would be that Vanessa Park is Korean, so racial diversity. Can I just say how cool it is to see a character with my sister's name? Almost as cool as seeing your own...unless you have a common name like I do. But anyway, Adler didn't stop there. She took the opportunity to explore and address diversity in film and media. Because as much as book bloggers discuss diversity in books, we also need to do the same for media, film, television, etc. That's not to say there isn't a huge campaign for more diversity of every kind in the media, but in the book blogging community, it isn't as apparent. As an Asian American, I have especially thought about representation a lot and about the lack of Asians in movies and television shows. I think part of that is the still existent tendency for Asian parents to discourage their kids from going into such a shaky field. And this was mentioned in Behind the Scenes too, which really made me happy. I felt that Adler did a great job with portraying a minority group character without being too stereotypical and/or cliche and without making it a plot device.

Continuing with the discussion of media and the entertainment industry, the book offered a very interesting, engaging, and real look at the industry. While I obviously cannot say for certain that it was a perfect portrayal of the industry, it definitely felt that way. At the very least, it doesn't seem too far from the truth. Along the vein of how realistic the book is, I'm incredibly happy with the fact that Behind the Scenes features parents that stick around and play a role in the story and in the life of the character. I think it's really interesting that Ally's father has cancer, especially since it actually reflects (in some ways) Adler's father's battle with the same cancer. Since Adler has experienced what Ally is experiencing in the book, it is written in such a realistic way, highlighting the highs and lows, the doubts, the happy moments, and more of what you go through when a parent has cancer.

On the other hand, I wish Ally's school life was slightly more prominent. While I understand that it's not the focus of the story, she probably would have realistically had a great struggle to balance/juggle adding being an assistant with her school life--as well as her family situation, etc. Maybe that's just because I'm really studious though...but if she is really intent on going to Columbia, I feel like we must have similar schoolwork ethics...The two other aspects that I felt a bit more iffy on were that 1) the conflict resolution occurred pretty suddenly and quickly. I mean, it could definitely be realistic, but it moved a tad too quickly for my taste. 2) I'm still a bit confused about Nate's "friendship" with Ally. At first, I thought they actually were friends, with or without Vanessa, but then it seemed that that wasn't the case. Then Nate basically disappeared from the story--for good reason, but I never felt 100% clear about their friendship. Were they only friends because of Van? Or were they friends naturally too--and in that case, why was it so easy for Ally to drop Nate, even with what he did?

Speaking of friendship, I greatly enjoyed how real and central Van and Ally's friendship is in the story. I love good, solid, well-developed, well-written friendships. In fact, I often treasure well done friendships more than romantic relationships in books because they can be so rare and because I think friends are so important. I know my friends are really important to me and affect me a lot. So of course I like seeing that in the books I read (and the movies and shows I watch). Their friendship is not without some bumps, but seeing how they really keep one another grounded and everything is just amazing. Adler really did a great job of establishing and expanding on the friendship between Vanessa and Ally, and it's one of my favorite parts of the book.

Last but certainly not least, while I love the friendship and I treasure it, I also really enjoyed the incredibly swoony romance between Liam and Ally. It did occur and develop a bit quickly, which bothered me at first, but you know what? I've learned that while I might be one to go at things slowly and wouldn't like someone that quickly, for some people, that does happen. So I've stopped judging books and their characters like that. So it still bothered me a bit, but I do think it was well written and ended up being slow enough in terms of development to just be awesome. Also, a guy that respects a girl that says no to sex? YES. But yeah, I mean, their romance is just well done and developed, and it was really interesting to see how Van and Liam's supposed relationship affected Ally individually, as well Ally and Liam as a couple. Just, gahhh, so awesome. Another romance to add to my list of favorite bookish relationships!

So I clearly love this book. I really enjoyed it, and it's incredibly well-written. I highly recommend this book, and if you read it/have read it, I will totally gush about this with you. I can't wait for Under the Lights, the companion novel.
Behind the Scenes: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Dahlia Adler: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest


  1. Great review! You definitely peaked my interest in this novel, and I look forward to reading it in the near future. Whenever I read, I'll be sure to let you know so we can discuss. ;)

  2. My name is also common- so common that it's the same as yours- Jessica! Adding Behind the Scenes to my TBR! I agree about great friendships being better than relationships, especially in YA since the focus tends to be more on romantic relationships. Based on the summary and your review, this book sounds like something I'd love! Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. hahaha! Go Jessica's! ;)

      Yay! I hope you'll enjoy it. :D


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