If I’d had to guess, I probably would have said my favorite part of Behind the Scenes would be the romance. While I do think Liam and Ally are shippable, that’s not actually my favorite aspect of the novel. Ally’s family wins that. Ally has a really close relationship with her father, who has been diagnosed with cancer. Her stress level throughout all of the romantic drama one might expect and some of her questionable decisions are fueled by the fact that she’s pushing herself so hard to be an adult before she’s ready, in an attempt to handle his impending death. That sounds heavy, but I think it’s handled in such a way to leave the overall book light on the whole. Ally’s dad was one of my two favorite characters and I loved the way that his plot sort of overshadowed everything, even if it wasn’t what the most time was spent on. His condition is never something she forgets about; it’s always in the back of her mind…or the front.
As is traditional in a romance, at some point, a major SNAFU ensues. Watching your best friend pretend to date your boyfriend is never going to be easy, and Ally definitely does not have the self-confidence to handle that. She thought she did, but she really doesn’t. When things go bad like whoa, a secondary character steps in and turns out to be my other favorite. His name is Josh and he drops a whole bunch of truth bombs. It’s very cathartic, because Behind the Scenes is one of those books where you can see Ally making bad choices but she can’t get enough out of her own head and insecurities to trust anyone.
The other big plus and the main thing that Adler brings to a very familiar story is its inclusiveness. There’s commentary on the whitewashing in Hollywood in the context of Van, Ally’s Asian best friend struggling to find roles in Hollywood. There are gay characters just because. There’s also sex without any sense of shame or judgment (off-screen, but I will take it). Though none of this is the central plot, I love seeing all of these things included.
What Left Me Wanting More:
What saddens me is that I didn’t feel like much of the humor and snarkiness of Dahlia really comes through in Behind the Scenes. There are a couple of scenes where I saw it, but, by and large, Ally is a very different sort of person. Again, this is an expectation I brought to the table and perhaps unfair, but I was hoping for the book to be more humorous than it actually was. It’s cute and sweet, but not really putting the comedy in romantic comedy.
The Final Verdict:
Do I recommend Behind the Scenes? Depends on your mood. If you’re looking for a predictable comfort read with some hot boys and some kissing, then for sure. If you’re looking for a real look at LA and Hollywood, I’d be more inclined to push you at Everything Leads to You.