Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (Cohn and Levithan)

I read somewhere online that the reason s/he loved books is because it articulates the thoughts and feelings s/he keeps inside precisely because of the inability to do so. That’s what makes reading so beautiful: YOU find yourself in the written word, affirmed and consoled that you are not the only one crazy enough to think or feel that way.

That’s how I felt when I read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, a really lovely young adult novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, the same authors who wrote Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. I may be 10 years senior to these main characters, but I could relate to both characters since I’ve always felt young at heart, perhaps because I long for these crazy teenage adventures that my own sheltered upbringing and introverted personality have kept me from having.

Lily is a happily “weird” girl. Quirky, you might say. Like a blond Zooey Deschanel minus the drawl. Dash comes across as a pretty smart and sociable but emo boy. A little bit like John Cusack in High Fidelity mixed with Jay Baruchel. And before I forget, Dash appeals to my inner linguistic geek – HE WANTS AN OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY COMPLETE SET! ❤

The two meet through a red notebook – central to Lily’s older brother’s brilliant plan to keep her busy during the holidays so that she would stop nagging him while their parents are on their “delayed honeymoon.” Reluctant at first, Lily eventually becomes intrigued by the fact that somebody actually took the time to follow her first dare and initiate a reciprocal dare. Their consequent interaction through the red notebook evokes sympathy and excitement and “aww’s” and even a few giggles (or chortles, if you’re a guy).

The use of teen colloquialisms belied the depth of the characters of the book. Too often we are quick to judge teenagers as flippant, but the authors show us that teens are much braver and wiser than we give them credit for. It’s true that they go through things that we adults would prefer them not to because we KNOW the consequences, but they’re built of sturdy stuff and therefore should be left alone once in a while. It’s their time to explore, and as scary as the notion is, we should cut them SOME slack.

Read the book and feel the connection with the two young stars of this story and find yourself whisked back to your youth.


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