July 2, 2014

Latest Read: Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler
Publication date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Category: Young Adult - contemporary
Source: Received at BEA
Summary: High school senior Ally Duncan's best friend may be Vanessa Park - star of TV's hottest new teen drama - but Ally's not interested in following in her BFF's footsteps. The only thing Ally's ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father's 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 is 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. (Adapted goodreads.com)

The Good
Maybe it’s just a coincidence but it feels like I’ve read a bunch of books this year that look at the ups and downs of fame and how hard it is to handle - whether you’re the actual celeb or happen to be best friends of one. In Behind the Scenes, Ally Duncan is your typical high school senior. She’s smart, works hard, dreams of going to Columbia for college and studying abroad in Paris. And her best friend is Vanessa Park, a budding actress and now upcoming star of TV’s hottest new teen drama (I was picturing a CW show!). They have different personalities and different paths in life but it’s never interfered with their friendship. So when Ally’s father’s medical bills reaches new heights (and may need to borrow from her college fund), becoming Van’s on-set assistant seems like the perfect solution. Awesome pay + best friend time = quick and easy savings. But of course, there’s a guy and while he doesn’t mean to cause conflict, he inadvertently does. He’s Vanessa’s hot co-star and sparks immediately fly between him and Ally (yay!). But when a publicist decides Vanessa and Liam should fake date for the tabloids (boo!),  Ally doesn’t know if she can deal with the celebrity world while caught up in this fake love triangle.

I would say that Behind the Scenes very much focuses on the the romance and the friendship. There are some sweet family moments included, like Ally’s bond with her dad and her cute little sister. I liked how important family was to Ally and how she worried about her dad being alone at the hospital. It was something I personally related to. But the BIG things in this book were definitely Ally’s relationships with both Vanessa and Liam (and their fake relationship). Van came across as a pretty awesome best friend. She’s a celebrity and has moments of buying expensive things and enjoying the party life but when it came down to it, she was always there for Ally when she needed her. She tried to help Ally achieve her dream, asked about her dad and asked her opinion on everything. (Her being half-Korean was also a great detail - go #DiversityInYA!).

Liam was the perfect (and hot) counterpoint to both Ally and Vanessa. He’s a celebrity but doesn’t actually like it. He’s not caught up in that world but at the same time it’s all he’s ever known and he has past, personal issues that contribute to his career as an actor. All of this makes him more than just a pretty face. He and Ally have slow but immediate chemistry and we get to actually watch their relationship develop. They hang out, confide in each other, flirt and there’s definitely some swooning going on. I love relationships like this — where the chemistry is palpable and there are actual conversations.

(Some) Reservations
The part that I struggled with was Ally. On one hand, I understood her insecurities and she does grow up throughout the book. She eventually faces her fears and none of what I mentioned is easy so I tried to be understanding. And she is likable (to a certain degree) but I also found her very frustrating. Towards the end, Liam’s best friend gives her a major reality check and I kinda wanted to jump up and cheer in agreement. For all the things she worried about with Vanessa and Liam’s fake relationship, she was just as much of a problem in the miscommunication. And Vanessa was such a good friend to her, which I thought Ally often took for granted and half the time, I didn’t understand why Ally kept so many things from her. To me, if there was anyone who was going to understand and have her back, it would be Vanessa since she was the only one who seemed to know how to act like a friend. (Yes, I got worked up about this!) Same thing with Liam. He never gave Ally a reason to doubt and I think she, at times, misjudged him too. I think if I understood Ally's actions, I would've connected to her better.

Do I recommend?
I do! If you’re in the mood for a contemporary YA romance, I did enjoy this one and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the chemistry between the characters as much as I did.

Happy reading!

2 comments:

  1. I don't tend to read contemporary YA so can't see myself reading this one (when I do read contemporary YA ones, I tend to go for the dark and moody ones) but I still enjoyed your review. It does seem a bit odd how many books there are about celebrities and relationships. Not that that's a bad thing. But I just wonder what it's trying to teach us. Make us realize celebrities are human? That there's a lot more behind them than what we see on TV? Or maybe I guess it could just be trying to capitalize off everyone's desire to know more about celebrities - even fake ones!

    Sorry to hear the MC frustrated you so much! Characters are make or break for me when it comes to books, so I'm not sure how I'd feel if I were frustrated by a character that much. (And haha, you can tell you were really getting worked up!) But at least the relationships were good!

    Great review :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah, Behind the Scenes, a book we loved with a character that frustrated the heck out of us! It was really fun to read this one. I always think it's fascinating to read about "real" people connected with the "fantasy" of celebrities through friendship or romance, which is why Behind the Scenes did hit a sweet spot. But Ally though!!!

    ReplyDelete