Dash and Lily's Book of Dares is the latest addition to the collection of co-written books by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan which include Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Although I have read Levithan before (Boy Meets Boy) this was my first book by the two of them and they are a fantastic team. In Dash and Lily's Book of Dares both characters are spending Christmas alone after their parents are out of town for various reasons. When Lily leaves a red Moleskin at the Strand secondhand bookstore next to Franny and Zooey with a list of clues, she never thinks that it will be picked up by the articulate and bookish Dash. Over the course of the Christmas break the two trade stories, dreams, and even a few dares which get both of them out of their comfort zones- but when the time comes to meet with Dash and Lily connect in person like they have on the page?"I was horribly bookish, to the point of coming right out and saying it, which I knew was not socially acceptable. I particularly loved the adjective bookish, which I found other people used about as often as ramrod or chum or teetotaler."
The characters in Dash and Lily are both quirky, awkward, and instantly likable in a way that reminds me strongly of many of Nick Hornby's books, like About a Boy or High Fidelity, but for young adults. Both Dash and Lily see themselves as freaks or outcasts when the truth is that anybody who reads this book is likely to see a bit of themselves in the characters. As somebody who was an extremely socially awkward teenager who has always been better with written words than conversation, I appreciated both the benefits and the flaws inherent in getting to know somebody through the written media. It's the same problem common to the internet- as Dash puts it, how can the person in your head ever live up to the actual real person? And it's certainly something the characters Dash and Lily have to come to terms with.
The setting in Dash and Lily is extremely important, and Cohn and Levithan made you feel like you were right in New York City during the hustle and bustle of Christmas season. The book has a slight tint of fantasy- I'm not entirely convinced these things would happen, but it's perfect to get you in the mood for the holidays and time with a loved one. As a Jew, I also found the bits involving klezmer pretty funny. Although there isn't anything revolutionary about Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, it's an extremely enjoyable read with likable characters and a few life lessons too. ****
Number of Pages: 272 pagesPublished: October 2010