Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
* * * * Stars (Great!)
Lily’s brother decides she needs a boyfriend, so he leaves a mysterious red Moleskine notebook among the used books at Strand’s (bookstore) for someone worthy to find. That someone is Dash (Dashiell), who is Lily’s age, loves the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), and has the most swoon-worthy musings. After leading him on a scavenger hunt through the store, Dash is given instructions on how to get in touch with the “owner” of the notebook. Then, the two use it as their only means of communication over winter break – asking probing questions, sharing thoughts and memories, getting to know one another. It goes back and forth between them (they each pre-arrange pick-up and drop-off locations), but they don’t actually meet until Dash tracks Lily down after several promising exchanges. Unfortunately, she’s not at her best and both are disappointed. Can Lily redeem herself, or is it too late? I loved how Dash and Lily were both so open to the adventure of the notebook – sharing some of their most private thoughts with one another (they were total strangers at the beginning) and visiting the places/trying the activities the other suggests. Part of the fun is how willing they were to play the game they were creating together. Although it’s not as pitch-perfect as John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars,” Dash & Lily definitely has its moments. If you’ve read and enjoyed “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” (also by Cohn & Levithan) this one is even better.
Excerpt: “Oh my,” Sofia said when I was through. “You think you’ve finally found the girl in your head.” “What do you mean?” “I mean, like most guys, you carry around this girl in your head, who is exactly what you want her to be. The person you think you will love the most. And every girl you are with gets measured against this girl in your head. So this girl with the red notebook – it makes sense. If you never meet her, she never has to get measured. She can be the girl in your head.” “You make it sound like I don’t want to get to know her.” “Of course you want to get to know her. But at the same time, you want to feel like you already know her. That you will know her instantly. Such a fairy tale… 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.” (pp.130-131)
Reviewed by YA Librarian