published October 2010 by Random House
272 pages (hardcover), YA
Dash hates Christmas. He can't stand the throngs of bipolar people who'll be spreading yuletide joy one minute and cursing you in a certain department store the next. He's surly and snarly, but he's a teenage boy, so he's partially entitled. Lily, on the other hand, is full of Christmas spirit, baking the most delicious and inventive holiday cookies and creating her own caroling troupe. Both teens are on their own for Christmas this year, which inevitably leads them to one another. When Lily's brother devises a plan to get Lily's goody-two-shoes bum out of the house and into the real world for some adventure and excitement, what Dash finds from these two is a red notebook in his favorite bookstore, daring him to do the same. So begins the correspondence between Dash & Lily.
I'll get the unfair comparison out of the way first - I'm a big fan of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist as well as Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List, so I knew that I would enjoy this book as well. Levithan and Cohn write alternating chapters in each of these books, and they're quite good at it. Remember when I said that I love author collaborations? I really, really do. I feel like there's more character development there somehow, but I suppose it's just because there are two narrators and the reader gets to know them both fairly well. At any rate, Dash & Lily are just as memorable as the previous, and I'm rather happy for it.
Coincidentally, here's my favorite quote from Dash:
I was attempting to write the story of my life. It wasn't so much about plot. It was much more about character (p.198).So, the story is about a boy and a girl who do not know each other in person but only through the dares they write to each other in this red notebook. From the bookstore to Santa's lap to a wax museum and much more, these two teens not only dare each other to do silly and annoying things but they also open up and share parts of themselves in their writing. Do I want to go buy a red notebook and try the same? You bet! It's fun and a little reckless - the idea is hopelessly romantic and does require you to suspend disbelief in order to properly enjoy it.
As with any author pairing, I was curious to see which character I would prefer. It took me a little while to decide, but I think Dash is my guy. Although Lily's sweet and innocent self was adorable, I had just a bit of trouble reconciling how sheltered she was in New York City. Not to say that everyone in the city is harsh and jaded - well, maybe I am a little. I'm not from there, so what do I know? But for that reason, Dash made more sense to me. And I'll be honest, I totally would have had a crush on him in high school. His unabashedly nerdy love affair with words is hot.
Though this book was told in two voices, there were quite a few supporting characters that stood out too. Dash's best friend Boomer, his ex-girlfriend Sofia, Lily's brother Langston, her great aunt "Mrs. Basil E," her cousin Mark and a few others. Through their eyes, the reader learns more about Dash & Lily, which does say something about a person's character, no pun intended.
So, there it is. Stick this entry into Wordle, and you'll get what I look for in a good novel: character. It's almost comical how many times I used that word. But that's what I enjoyed most about this book, even though the dares were fun too. It's definitely an appropriate read for this time of year - I appreciated it during our first snow! Go pick it up and pass it along to a teen over the holidays. They might not admit it, but they will definitely eat it up.
Three purple crayons for an enjoyable story with excellent characters.
Around the blogosphere:
Eating YA Books ; Guys Lit Wire ; Pure Imagination ; Chick Lit Reviews ; Book Aunt