January 12, 2013

DASH & LILY'S BOOK OF DARES by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Dash & Lily's Book of DaresDash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle & Audio
272 pages
Published October 11, 2011 by Ember
ISBN-10:  0375859551
ISBN-13:  978-0375859557
“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Co-written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, co-author of WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON with John Green (LET IT SNOW, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS), DASH & LILY'S BOOK OF DARES is a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

 My Thoughts on Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is the perfect book for the anti-romantic, the anti-Christmas lover - - it takes a cynical view of love at first sight and holiday glee and yet leaves the reader in love with this book and its characters and feeling loads of holiday charm.  It may be classified as a Young Adult novel but this over-40 wife and mother thoroughly enjoyed each page. 

Authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan take turns in narrating the story; Levithan writes the chapters on Dash, the bookish loner who is spending his Christmas vacation alone and Grinch-like and Cohn writes the chapters on Lily, the quirky teen with a fervent adoration of Christmas, who believes in the red notebook full of challenges that lead her and Dash all over Manhattan over the next few weeks. 
I picked up this book because I connected with the cover.  It’s very winter in New York, with the lamppost, the street sign and snow flurries.  I was happy with the idea of the concept once I read the description and the book came through, surpassing my expectations.  It’s not a typical romance; much like the film Sleepless in Seattle, the love interests spend our story apart until the end and we have the pleasure of enjoying every moment of their whimsical journey to find each other.    It starts with a red notebook on the shelf at the Strand Bookshop that Dash picks up and, intrigued, he follows the clues that will begin a correspondence with Lily, who is none too sure this slight take on You’ve Got Mail, with a dash (no pun intended) of a scavenger hunt, is going to work.  The backdrop of the two weeks or so surrounding Christmas, with both teens being abandoned by their parents during the holidays, gives Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares a somewhat mystical quality.  Having the two teens running around New York City at Christmas really does New York City justice.  It’s easy to mentally picture the two of them on their covert missions and, really, no other city could have worked with this story.  Well, I suppose another city could have but New York adds a certain charm that just goes with this story.

One of the things I really liked with the story was that Dash and Lily didn’t necessarily talk and act at all times like teenagers.  Dash seems a bit pretentious at first (but you will grow to like, if not love, him) and Lily, while kooky, is that girl in high school that everyone would like if they give her the chance.  While this was a bonus for me, it may score a tick in the negative column for actual teens reading this book.  In short, though, Lily is a strong and courageous character who is a positive female role model. 
If there are any negatives, it may be the sideline plot of Boris and the baby.  It was a little weird and took me out of the story briefly.  But it’s relatively minor. 

Despite the plot centering on two teenagers who are for the most part left unsupervised, there is a very small amount of drinking and no sex.  For any parents concerned about their child reading this tale, the after effect of the drinking is explored and is none too pretty.  There may be a few slang or curse words here and there (it is a book about teens, after all) but the book is a joyful and fun read and not offensive in the slightest.
I would recommend Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares to young and older readers alike.  It’s a festive holiday read and a warm and thoughtful read for any time of year. 

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is available for purchase at major booksellers, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate.  I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase through my link. 
FTC Disclosure:  This book came from my own personal collection.  I was neither compensated nor paid in any way for this review.  

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