If you want them, turn the page.
If you don't, put the book back on the shelf, please.
At the urge of her lucky-in-love brother, sixteen-year-old Lily has left a red notebook full of dares on her fvourite bookshop shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept.
Curious, snarky Dash isn't one to back down from a challenge - and the Book of Dares is the perfect thing to keep him occupied this Chritmas.
As they send each other on a snowbound scavenger hunt across Manhatten, they're falling for each other on paper. But finding out if their real selves share their on-page chemistry could be their biggest dare. From the blurb.
This is the first novel I've read by both these authors, but the third by David Levithan (reviews of the other two to come next year). I have decided; Levithan is an authorly genius. Not only was this book lovely and Christmassy, it was sweet, romantic, and kind of philosophical. I loved it!
With her parents away for a second honeymoon in Fiji and her grandfather spending the holiday in Florida, Lily is not happy that Christmas is going to be spent with just her and her brother. That's not Christmas at all! To distract her and keep her busy, her brother comes up with the idea of the book of dares; Lily just may find a worthy guy through this small red notebook. With divorced parents and a loathing of all things Christmas, Dash has told each parent he is spending it with the other, and both end up going on holiday. Alone, and wanting to escape all the Christmas shoppers, he steps into his favourite bookstore, and finds a red notebook on the shelves, daring him to work out the clues, and offering him the perfect distraction from Christmas. And so begins a friendship among the pages that travels across Manhatten, but is it one that will blossom into more outside the book?
The story is told from both Dash and Lily's points of view in alternating chapters. The individual lives on Dash and Lily are quite different. Dash is dealing with some resentment towards his parents and a complete dislike of all things Christmas. Lily adores Christmas, but is completely annoyed that everyone has abandoned her at what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year. Dash is introspective, sometimes sullen, and "snarly", Lily is positive and optimistic, quite happy-go-luck, and can seem very young in the way she views things, but not annoyingly so. It's very strange and amusing, but also worrying, how they both assume the other is a certain type of person from what is written in the notebook, but are quite wrong a fair few times. The other isn't who they imagine them to be, and you worry this almost-but-not-quite blooming romance might end before it even really starts.
I don't think there's much more I can say about the plot without spoiling it for you, so I'll leave it there and just say it's a brilliant story! I can, however, talk about the book more generally. Levithan, I've noticed, has a writing style that is familiar and recognisable, no matter what the story he's telling or the characters involved. At the very end of the book, in the authors' bios section, it tells us that Levithan wrote Dash's chapters, and Rachel wrote Lily's, but I found I knew this any way, because of how Levithan writes. There's something about Levithan's writing that in every book by him I read, there is something that reaches me. Both Levithan and Cohn say things through their characters in this book that feels like they are speaking to the reader as well as to the other characters in the book. The following excerpts are two that made me stop and think "woah", for how right they are. They either say something I've always thought but never knew how to really say, or open my eyes and make me think a little. The first is what Dash's ex-girlfriend, Sofia, says to him, so Levithan's chapter.
'"I mean, like most guys, you carry around this girl in your head, who is exactly who 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 it makes sense. If you never meet her, she never has to get measured. She can be the girl in your head... It's only when we try to make the girl or boy in our head real that the trouble comes... Be careful what you're doing, because no-one is ever who you want them to be."' (p130-131)This just makes so much sense to me, though I never would have thought of it before. And the next - said to Lily by her brother, Langston - is just so true!
'"The important people in our lives leave imprints. They may stay or they may go in the physical realm, but they are always in your heart, because they helped form your heart. There's no getting over that."' (p233)I don't know about you, but I love it when a book seems to get me, offers me some advice, or just says something that makes sense of my life, past or present, or speaks to me in some other way. It makes it more than just a story, but special to me personally. And it's this and the fact that this is just such a playfully romantic story that makes me love it so much!
I fell completely head over heel's with Dash and Lily's story - and the whole idea of the Book of Dares! A fantastic, fantastic book, and I am so looking forward to reading more by these two authors in future.
Thank you to Mira Ink for sending me a review copy.
Published: 5th October 2012
Publisher: Mira Ink
Buy on Amazon US
Rachel Cohn's Website
David Levithan's Website