Title/Author: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn
Publisher/Year: Knopf Books for Young Readers/2010
How I Got This Book: Bought it at the author signing for it!
Why I Read This Book– I needed a non-cheesy Christmas book to read and I heard really good things about this one..and about David Levithan in general. Oh and The Strand is involved!!
Rating: 4 stars
Lily, a perky, Christmas-loving optimist, leaves a notebook filled with clues and a challenge for the finder on the shelves of The Strand after her brother and his boyfriend convince her that she needs to find a guy. Dash, our brooding, Christmas-loathing hipster, finds this notebook at his favorite bookstore–The Strand– and accepts the dare. The notebook takes them all over the New York City during the Christmas season as they accept each others dares and create new ones. They end up finding out a lot about themselves and each other but they have to wonder–is the notebook merely a projection of what they want to find or will they really find love during a lonely Christmas apart from their families?
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares definitely met my requirement as a non-cheesy Christmas pick. It was full of hilarity, wit, love and introspection. I loved the concept and I was eager to see where Lily and Dash would send each other next. Listening to David and Rachel read this and talk about their writing process enhanced my reading experience. The book alternates from Lily to Dash and David and Rachel wrote the book the way that Dash and Lily did the notebook. David would write a chapter and then send it to Rachel and then from there she would write a chapter based on what he wrote. You can just imagine them sitting there, “Oh yeah..you sent me to MACY’s..guess where I’m sending Lily next!?”
|A really bad pic of me at THE STRAND!|
I really liked the characters. Lily reminded me of a less annoying version of perky Rachel Berry from Glee–with a less polished look. Dash reminded me of your typical hipster boy who thinks is way too cool and has exceptional taste in everything. I liked how the notebook allowed each of them to let their guards down and drop the facade. My one gripe with the characters is that Dash just didn’t seem believable to me sometimes. It was some of the conversations he would have–particularly the one he had with Lily’s aunt at her house (or grandmother..I forget?). It just seemed a little too contrived and I couldn’t really see anybody talking like that to an adult–especially a high school boy. However, Dash was always the type of guy I wanted back in the day–intellectual, deep, hip, etc. so I’ll still love him.
I loved that they were opposites because my boyfriend (of four years) and I are totally the same way. We shouldn’t fit together–not at all. Any matchmakers or dating services would have never in a million years put us together. As Dash and Lily learn, it’s not always easy to work through those differences and doubts and sometimes it can become downright frightening to try and figure out how you really feel and what you are looking for. It’s a messy and complicated process. Looking realistically at what they knew of each other through the notebook, I’m not quite sure I believed that they were that invested in each other. It moved a little quick but I can understand how that is. It reminds me of back in high school and early college when you were getting to know a guy and you’d chat until all hours of the night on AIM and you’d analyze everything said and smile and squee when he showed interest or said something cute. You’d feel yourself falling for him in his clever answers to your questions and feel like you knew him SO well. And then, for me, I’d get to know him and he wasn’t that charming or perfect; just really good at writing the right thing. I guess I probably wasn’t either. Anyways, I digress, but their affection for each other came so out of the blue for me but I kind of just equated it to the above experiences. *spoiler-ish* I mean, they came together and realized that the other one wasn’t perfect despite what they built them to be but they were ok with that and started from there.
My final thought: If you want a non-cheesy Christmas book to simultaneously help you release some of that Christmas tension by laughing a lot and thinking about what it is to love, give this a try. It certainly isn’t a mushy romance but I think it captures some of the wading through murky waters you have to do in a courtship. Dash and Lily will be memorable characters that will have you rooting for their love immediately. It will be a story that is as sweet as all that overpriced, commercialized candy will taste on Christmas morning. Hey, I’m just channeling my inner Dash after a long day of Christmas shopping and feigning Christmas cheer as I get bumped around by crazy Christmas shoppers and cranky inhabitants of the long lines.