Under The Lights, a companion novel to Daylight Falls, follows Ally’s best friend, Vanessa Park, and Liam’s best friend, Joshua Chester, in alternate POVs. And if you’ve seen the cover and are a follower of Dahlia Adler on Twitter, then you know that a book is an F/F Romance. Which is OMFG WE NEED MORE OF THESE. And if you’ve read Daylight Falls, you also know that Vanessa Park is an Asian-American and Joshua is an a**hole.
Okay. So we’re on the same page.
I’m not going to lie and say that I loved all the characters and all that they said and did. I didn’t. Hell, I hated Josh in the first half of the book. His womanising ways, his absolutely careless attitude towards anyone but himself, his blatant disrespect toward his parents, his crappy ways of dealing with situations. But here’s what I’ve come to realise: Josh doesn’t ask to be loved. He doesn’t ask for a fan base of his own and he doesn’t go around making the reader feel like they just have to love him. He’s not a damaged bad boy with a heart of gold…he just is. And with Josh, with Under The Lights, as a reader, I’ve learnt something new. I’ve learnt that in books, as in real life, some people just are the way they are. Nothing or no one can change them and that’s okay. It’s okay to ignore them if they’re nasty and it’s okay to want to be their friend if you’re inclined. In the end, I loved that Josh was an unapologetic bad boy who neither wanted nor need my approval. He was proud to be himself and all the more power to him for it.
But really. If I were to make this really simple, readers mine, let me tell you that this story is more about Vanessa Park than Josh Chester. Vanessa struggles with trying to make her parents realise that for her, this is it. Acting is what she wants to do for the rest of her life, she’s not going through a phase and college isn’t really on the cards for her. But acting? Acting makes her happy and that’s what her parents should want, right? To see her happy? Somehow, it’s very difficult for her to make them see this. And then there’s the part where her parents might be right, and that she’s only acting on borrowed time. After all, what Asian-American will be able to stay in the TV world for too long? And then there’s the tiny part of her that has started to like like a particular girl. Needless to say, Vanessa is a mess.
I loved that reading Vanessa felt like coming home. It was like, “There. There it is. That’s how I feel. That’s how difficult it is admitting certain things in life and that is exactly how my parents would react.” I can say I’ve never felt like this before, with any other book. No other book (or character, for that matter) has ever made me feel like I’m not alone in my problems quite like UtL did and that makes me so, so grateful. Vanessa made me want to jump into the book and grab her in a hug and never let her go. She wasn’t always right, and she wasn’t always perfect, but what mattered is that she conquered a lot of things I hadn’t anticipated she would, in the way she did and again, that makes me glad.
I’ve always felt like I’m not the best person to judge the writing of an author, and that’s never been so clear to me as it is right now. The writing in Under The Lights only makes the characters and their problems and their situations that much more real, and beautiful, and bloody relatable. Not only is the writing quick and smart and witty, it flows so beautifully…almost making you feel like you might miss something if you blink. Dahlia Adler seemingly had no troubles dealing with issues that are relevant and important—coming out to the world (no matter how big or small your world is), choosing what is right for yourself, and most importantly, realising that just because you’ve been living your life a certain way doesn’t mean that it is the only way to live your life.
The characters in this book, every single one of them, are AMAZING