Looking for a funny, flirty, feel-good kind of book to read? You should try Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares, by the same authors as Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (which I have unfortunately not have the pleasure of reading yet, but have been assured by friends-whose-opinions-I-trust that it is excellent … but I couldn’t find the book at the store, which is how I ended up with Dash & Lily in the first place).
Dash & Lily takes place around Christmas time in New York (making this a great read for the upcoming holidays as well *wink wink*) and is told in alternating perspectives of Dash (short for Dashiel) and Lily, two sixteen year old teens.
Dash is a bit of a cynic. He hates Christmas, he hates crowds. His parents are divorced and they hate one another. He can come off as a bit bitter, but he’s overall a nice guy. Lily, on the other hand, simply adores Christmas. She loves giving and receiving presents, baking and singing Christmas carols. She has a ginormous family and a pesky but loyal older brother. She’s upset that this Christmas, she doesn’t really have anyone — including her family — to spend it with. So how do two very different people end up meeting one another?
Dash is at his favourite bookstore browsing the shelves when he spots a red notebook tucked in the Salinger section. Curious, he opens it and reads it and finds the following message:
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 a sort of scavenger hunt around the store, leaving Dash with a very strange collection of books to carry around. At the end, the owner of the notebook says if he is interested in meeting her, to please leave the notebook with the store clerk. Dash decides to leave Lily his own set of clues instead, for her to find him … and so begins this back-and-forth passing of the notebook, each one trying to one-up one another with the clues until it becomes a book of dares. As they do this, they come to know one another more and more.
I really adored this book! The premise sounded really interesting and I’m glad it didn’t fail to deliver on that point. It’s not simply a story of two teens flirting back and forth like a chick-lit kind of book though; it is quite a character-driven storyline.
Both Dash and Lily learning more about themselves, about love, about Christmas and their place in their own respective families. They often muse about such matters, go off on tangents and carry internal monologues with themselves — many of which are pretty humorous! And many of which are quite quotable and memorable, some even profound. Here is one of my favourites, from the character Sofia (Dash’s ex-girlfriend), offering Dash some advice when he isn’t sure whether or not he really wants to meet Lily:
“You see Dash, I was never the girl in your head. And you were never the boy in my head. I think we both knew that. It’s only when we try to make the girl or boy in our head real that the true trouble comes. I did that with Carlos, and it was a bad failure. Be careful what you’re doing, because no one is ever who you want them to be. And the less you really know them, the more likely you are to confuse them with the girl or boy in your head.”
I really liked Dash and Lily’s relationship. First of all, they kind of “met” in their shared favourite bookstore, which, as a book lover, is incredibly nerdy and romantic haha. Secondly, because Dash and Lily never actually meet one another for most of the novel, we don’t have any InstaLove™ nor do we have repetitive descriptions of how “hawt” each other are.
You know what? I don’t think Dash and Lily were ever adequately described in the book now that I think about it, but I actually don’t really care because Dash and Lily are such genuine and realistic characters that you don’t care what they look like. Their personalities are the characters’ features, not their attractive or unattractiveness.
The only thing I was not really that crazy about was the ending. The whole thing with Lily becoming famous for catching a baby mid-air (or ‘snatching’, as some cynical mothers labeled the action) went a little beyond my realm of realistic expectations, and though the final scene wrapping up Lily and Dash’s relationship was pretty cute, it was also a little, uhm, stereotypical? (Spoiler, highlight to read: Well, at least I think so. Getting trapped in the bookstore storage room overnight and really bonding over the experience is something I’ve read and watched in many stories now. Ok, not necessarily a bookstore storage room, but you know, some sort of small enclosed space, like an elevator. I don’t know, maybe I’m just jaded).
Overall, a really fantastic read and one I’d definitely recommend if you are interested in it! I really would love to read the rest of Cohn and Levithan’s collaborated works now; I think I’ve become a fan!