Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Knopf Books, 2010
Several years ago, I read Cohn & Levithan's Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist - and I was impressed by their ability to toss chapters back and forth and create a cohesive and enjoyable novel. What I wasn't keen about was the language. Call me old-fashioned, but it bugged me. So I was a little apprehensive about reading another of their co-writing projects. But the premise of this one was just too much to resist, and coupled with the enthusiastic reviews of several of my new blog buddies, I took the dare and read the book. (Pun entirely intended).
Let me begin by saying reading Dash and Lily's story was a little eerie: From the first page, I was hearing the story told in my voice (for Lily's chapters) and my friend Joshua's voice (for Dash's chapters). It was like they'd tapped into our heads or bugged our phones or something. In places it was like reading a conversation we'd have, and the whole story had this feel as if we could/would/should have come up with it. A little strange. Nice, but strange. It made the story more fun, actually, after the initial 'shock' of discovery. Back to the story ... Dash and Lily tell the story in alternating chapters - sometimes the chronology overlaps, but it's not confusing. You're reading both "their story" as it unfolds, while also reading their individual stories. The characters are well developed, and the supporting cast is hilarious and well-placed. It's an improv story of sorts: neither Dash nor Lily has any idea where it's going - it's just one mysterious clue, challenge, dare in the notebook after another. Until ... it's not anymore.
Dash & Lily is more than just a couple kids trying to keep themselves occupied during Christmas break though - it's a journey of self-discovery for the characters that will make you remember the days you were trying to figure it all out. It's about learning to be comfortable with yourself, while also learning how to be a friend. It's about opening up and taking chances - whether it's taking a dare or offering your very inner self. And it's laugh-out-loud funny, which will always earn a book bonus points. Fun read, quick read, but a read that will linger ... I want a sequel. But I also don't - because I want to continue Dash and Lily's story myself, in my head, as I live my own life and see their reflection in the seeming insanity of the moments that make memories, in the friends who surprise you and bring out the best (and sometimes worst) in you.
Book provided by my personal library.