All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

on December 11, 2010

After reading Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist recently and not falling in love with it, I was still determined to give this one a go. I’d already reserved it from the Library and picked it up the day I dropped Nick & Norah back off. In this novel a 16yo boy named Dash is browsing in his favourite bookstore, Strand, in New York. Just a sidenote – this bookstore sounds like my idea of heaven! While Dash is perusing the shelves, he notices a red moleskin notebook. Intrigued, he takes the notebook down and opens it, finding a cryptic clue that leads him around the store to another section to find another book and another clue and another book and another clue and so on. Intrigued, Dash does what each clue tells him and fills in blanks in the notebooks using words from the books the clues have been directing him to. He decides to play along and when the final instruction is to pick a book and leave a slip with his email address inside to one of the clerks in the store, he decides to be a bit different and give something else. He leaves her a clue of his own.

When Lily picks up the clue from the Strand she is intrigued also that someone decided to play along and from then on, it becomes a game. They set each other tasks around New York, using family members and friends to participate so that they don’t actually meet or learn anything about each others physical appearance for some time. Their interactions take place in the red moleskin notebook and in the clues the leave for each other. Freed from perhaps the constraints of conventional friendship, they both find themselves confessing things to the other – Dash about the last time he ever truly enjoyed a Christmas, and Lily about the only time she experienced a Christmas she didn’t enjoy. They are clearly chalk and cheese: Dash is described more than once as “snarly” and a “hipster wannabe” who is cynical and hates Christmas and all it involves, stemming back to a disastrous Christmas that has now shaped the way he views the holiday. Lily is sheltered and over-protected by her family. She’s a bit socially awkward and doesn’t have many friends but she’s almost childlike in her love of Christmas and animals. She buries her loneliness in caring for other people’s animals as a dogwalker, lavishing affection on animals and longing for one of her own. She’s been told for years by her parents that she can’t have one as she gets too attached. That’s just one example of how Lily’s family treat  her like she’s five years old, and the book is littered with many others. You know they do have at least one thing in common though. Lily deliberately left the notebook next to a book she loved and Dash was browsing the books of an author he loves when he finds it.

It is clear that they are both quite lonely. Lily’s parents have gone away for Christmas for the first time, to Fiji, for their wedding anniversary and even though Lily okayed it, she wanted them to realise that she didn’t actually mean it. Christmas is special to her and she feels abandoned. Her grandpa has gone as well, down to Florida to see his lady friend and that leaves her with her older brother Langston who is happily involved with a new boyfriend. Dash, who has parents that are separated and haven’t spoken to each other in 8 years, tells his father he’s spending Christmas with his mother and vice versa and his parents are both away on holidays with their new partners. The notebook is a distraction for the both of them, a delightful diversion from having to face the holidays alone. Just because they orchestrated it, doesn’t really mean that they wanted it!

This book was the perfect Christmas read. It’s really, really sweet. Dash and Lily are both infinitely lovable but not without flaws. Their interactions are amusing and clever and I spent a lot of the time while I was reading this book trying to decide what sort of things I would do in a similar project as the book of dares and I don’t possess the imagination of either of these authors. It has plenty of humour and the cast of supporting characters (Lily’s relatives, Dash’s friend Boomer) are perfect ways to inject some laughs. I like that their first real life meeting didn’t go perfectly and that they both knew it would’ve been amazingly hard to live up to their expectations after the interactions in the notebook. But they were also willing to accept the fact that the first time was a bit of a disaster and that they should try again – although it takes them a while to get there!

While Nick & Norah didn’t do it for me, this book definitely did. I have heard so many good things about the authors, separately and together and I was a bit disappointed after Nick & Norah as it really didn’t live up to the (probably too high) expectations I had of it. I am happy that this one met my expectations and probably exceeded them, which is always nice. I will probably end up buying a copy of this sometime soon so it can go on my shelf for re-reads. It has great re-read potential!


Book #110 of 2010

3 responses to “Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

  1. Katie says:

    This looks like a fun Christmassy read. 🙂

  2. Marg says:

    So glad to see that you enjoyed this one. I might have to make an effort to fit it in before Christmas.

  3. […] knew it’d been a really long time since I’d read Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares but I didn’t know it was a whopping 10 years! I remember how much I enjoyed it and how cute I […]

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