“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 and 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?
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.(Publisher's summary from Powell's Books)
There is something so deliciously improbable about Rachel Cohen and David Levithan’s new book Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares that I found it totally irresistible and an utterly charming book. From the very first chapter I was caught up in the sheer whimsy of two of the most unlikely characters to ever to cross paths, and like Dash and Lily I was willing to read, “for the pure thrill of unreluctant desire.”
What makes this book so yummy is how seamlessly all the elements of fiction worked together. First, the setting added tons to the overall effect of both the plot and the characters. Dash and Lily are both native New Yorkers and that was completely obvious in their personalities and their different actions and reactions. But Cohen and Levithan didn’t stop with just New York as the setting, they added New York during the Christmas holiday, which took on significant importance by adding insights and backgrounds necessary in getting to know more about Dash and Lily as individuals.
Another element that made Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares a delight was the use of alternating points of view. One of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much came from how easily I stepped into each character’s head. I absolutely adored Dash, who is cynical and snarly, and definitely not a fan of Christmas, but his love of the English language and wit made him a guy I could really relate to almost like he was my alter ego. Lily, on the other hand, loves Christmas, and unlike Dash is naïve and has led a fairly sheltered life, but she is smart, intense, and compassionate to a fault. Both these characters’ voices ring true throughout the entire book and I loved every moment I spent in their company.
In addition to loving both Dash and Lily, Cohen and Levithan created several other characters that played largely into the enjoyment of the book. Lily’s huge family, helped out in many of the dares. Her gay brother was the one who suggested the journal in the first place and offers up some sage advice about taking risks. Lily’s aunt and grandpa were also interesting characters and helped round out Lily’s personality. While Dash, unlike Lily, is not surrounded by a loving and over-protective family, he is not without friends. His best friend Boomer was a hoot, a true comic side-kick, who in the end offers up a very philosophical view about love not being a simple yes-or no question and helps Dash sort out feelings.
The combination of all these elements makes for one of the most pleasant romantic adventures I have had as a reader. As Dash and Lily interact via the pages of a red moleskin journal, I had the time of my life. Each dares takes on a life of its own. In fact, there is something almost magical about the dares and how each of the characters responds. The romance that develops within the pages of the journal was almost magical too. The story is certainly about the enormity of possibilities, yearnings, and love, and the realities of life. Dash and Lily not only find out about each other and themselves, but about how messy life and love can be, and how taking risks is worth the mess.
This is a fantastic book. A perfect December read. More than that it is smart, funny, and I dare you not to fall in love with it too!