Sunday, December 5, 2010

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

Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Number of Pages: 272
How I Got It: In my free box of books at the ALAN Workshop

I'm so glad I chose to read this book just after Thanksgiving because it's such a great, feel-good story that takes place from right before Christmas to right after New Year's. It's such fun to read these kinds of stories around the holidays. From the authors of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List comes their new collaborative story, told in alternating points of view chapter by chapter. Dash and Lily are both high school students in New York City who are home without parents for the holidays. Dash and Lily are both looking for someone who understands them and someone to share their time and thoughts with. Dash and Lily have not met when this story starts, and don't actually meet until about halfway through, because Dash and Lily are communicating via messages written in a notebook and dares to each other and clues to find the next hiding spot. Dash first finds the notebook at his favorite bookstore as he's browsing the shelves, and there are clues to hidden places - and with nothing better to do he figures them out and discovers the notebook is from Lily. She's looking for a guy that will be right for her, and figures if someone has gone far enough to get through all of the clues, he just might be the right one. Intrigued, Dash writes her a lengthy message back and starts them on their path to exchanging the notebook back and forth. They continue to dare each other to go deeper and reveal more about themselves and their dreams and desires. As their messages get more in depth, the reader learns about each of them just as they are learning about each other. This book has it all: adolescent awkwardness, romantic entanglements, missed opportunities, friendships changing, family discoveries, and above all, the realization that sometimes you need to grab the opportunity and make it work for you, instead of waiting for it to happen to you.

This was a really enjoyable book with a great cast of likeable and funny secondary characters supporting the antics of the two main characters who I was rooting for throughout the book. Dash is a highly intelligent character who uses big words and is very thoughtful. He is a character that is not your typical "leading man" for a romance story, in fact he is often described by others as "surly;" however, it is obvious that he is just a very in-his-head kind of guy. Lily is confident in herself and her uniqueness of style and attitude and able to accept that she is not the "popular" type; however, she comes to discover that the way she's looking at the world isn't necessarily the way the world is looking at her. Both are mature, intelligent characters who are very accepting of others and working to figure out the status of their family, friend, and romantic lives. 

These two authors make a great writing pair. Their plot continues to move forward without the generic or stereotypical teenage angst or drama events. The story feels real and honest. Neither one is ever sure if they or the other will live up to their notebook selves. Can they be that honest in real life also? New York City itself becomes a character in this story and the setting adds to the romantic nature of what happens throughout the book.  I haven't read either of their other books, but I will definitely be picking them up.


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