***I’M SORRY, THERE ARE SPOILERS***
I want to apologise in advance because I need to get the way I feel about this book off my chest. I cannot form coherent flowing sentences, because right now the emotions are overwhelming. This book has me bursting with love, happiness and pride. So, I’ve decided the only way to praise Dahlia Adler and this spectacular novel is through a letter.
I just finished your latest book Under the Lights, and what can I say, I LOVED IT! Wait, no past tense. I LOVE IT, I AM IN LOVE WITH IT, I WANT TO MARRY IT AND IN BOOK SPEAK THAT MEANS RE-READ ALL MY FAVOURITE PARTS; ALL DAY, EVERYDAY.
I am not sure what I was expecting or maybe I focused too much on the f/f romance that I knew would be present that I forgot other characters and other story lines would also exist. Is that bad? I am sorry – I was hooked as soon as the words f/f were uttered.
Anyway, back to the book. I am a sucker for books with different POV (even if it is the same scene written from a different perspective; I’m hooked) and what you did with Vanessa and Josh totally blew me away. Whether it was intentional or not you created two very strong characters. I’m not sure if Josh was supposed to be the supporting actor to Vanessa’s lead but I felt he very much held his own. I love him – were people supposed to hate him? Do people hate him? Because his sense of humour, his sarcasm and later on his exposed vulnerabilities had me hooked.
The story held a steady pace throughout the whole novel and I loved watching the change in Josh, I loved that he had real struggles and used what he knew to over come his obstacles – I would love to read more about Josh. His transition from douchebag to BFF had me wishing he were my BFF. Reading his point of view allowed me to be completely immersed in Josh’s world. The fact that their chapters were not intertwined allowed Josh to evolve and showed his strength as an individual character.
Then there is Vanessa. I feel like I’ve known so many Vanessa’s in my life. The girl with a big heart and a beautiful soul. Just trying to make sense of it all. As a character you gave her so much depth, you highlighted her struggles and you then gave her ownership over her life that was so empowering to read. Her struggles are real, her fears are real, and her reality is real. I thank you so much for creating a character that will be such a positive influence on young readers – the world needs this.
I’m not going to lie from 70% onwards I was in tears and I couldn’t stop. They were happy and sad tears, tears of empathy, then tears of relief and joy. I felt myself holding my breath every time Vanessa said ‘I’m Gay’. The relief that came every time she uttered those words… it had my heart bursting. Coming out to her best friend had me biting my nails (even though deep down I knew Ally wouldn’t disappoint) and my biggest heartbreak… her parents.
When I finished the book I knew that this wasn’t just a fictional story. This is the story of millions of young adults. Feeling lost, hiding from their true selves, feeling the need to succumb to stereotypes… this list is endless.
Being a young adult is hard! Being a young adult who is dealing with cultural expectations and working out what their sexual orientation is is even harder. But having people like Dahlia Adler in the world writing books that encompass the true essence of diversity and providing a sense of empathy and camaraderie for those who need to know they are not alone. This is priceless.
Dahlia you advocate for diversity in books daily, you recommend books with diverse characters daily, but with Under the Lights you flawlessly showed everyone how serious you are – you practice what you preach. I know the fact you live and breath for the cause made this book so much more special for me. I felt your commitment and passion the whole way through.
When it comes to love, self-discovery and owning and accepting your place in the world, this book is everything and more.
It was amazing.
Also a few things that didn’t fit seamlessly into my letter.
1 – The sex scene was GREAT – no fading into black. You captured Van’s fear, anxiety, exhilaration and relief perfectly
2 – Bri – I LOVE HER
3 – Ally the greatest best friend
4 – I love that there was no massive love triangle and Josh focused on his personal journey more then his feelings for Van
5 – Instead of hash-tagging first world problems I will now attempt to make #LiamsProblems a thing.