Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Happy New Year! Every good wish for 2013. Here is the first review of this year. Hope you enjoy!

It is Christmastime in New York and Dash (short for Dashiell) finds himself in his favourite place in all the world, the Strand Bookshop. Whilst searching the shelves he comes across a red moleskin notebook with the words “DO YOU DARE?” written on masking tape, in black Sharpie stuck on the front cover. He opens the book and there on the first page was a message:

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please. “

He knew the handwriting was that of a girl. As he turns the page he sees the words that lead to the first steps of a wonderful journey of dares and truth!

Dash hates Christmas! His parents had been through a bitter divorce when Dash was eight years old. His father used Dash as a weapon to hurt his ex-wife, trying to gain sole custody of him and thus denying her any access to her beloved son. Fortunately, the judge realised what was happening and Dash’s mother won that particular battle. He has lived with her ever since although, a few years after the divorce, she had taken up with a boyfriend who Dash was not too fond of.

Dash is now sixteen and this particular year finds himself all alone at Christmas. He engineered this by telling his father he was spending the holiday with his mother and telling his mother he was with his dad. Both his mum and dad had decided to go on holiday with their respective partners thinking he was with the other parent. Dash was certain he would not be found out as his parents had not spoken a word to each other since the day they divorced. Being alone was just fine by him, it was a good opportunity to read and trawl the eighteen miles of bookshelves at the Strand Bookstore, Dash’s favourite pastimes.

Lily loves Christmas! She loves everything about it and even set up her own carolling society because there was none in the “gentrified bohemia” of the East Village where she lives. Lily is the youngest in the family, a family which includes her devoted mother and father, her brother, Langston, a doting grandfather, a great aunt and so many aunties, uncles and cousins she cannot count them all. Her grandfather used to run the neighbourhood family grocery store in East Village. He knows EVERYONE and even though he has retired from the grocery store he still lives on the fourth floor penthouse of the old brownstone building where it stood. Lily and her family live on the second and third floor. Because of this extensive network of family, friends and acquaintances looking out for her and the fact that Lily goes to an all girls school where she is not in the “in-crowd”, she finds it terribly difficult to meet and associate with boys her own age.

Langston suggests that she needs a boyfriend of her own age and with similar interests. He mentions the book of dares idea to her. Slowly she comes up with a plan and as her cousin works at The Strand Bookstore, her favourite place, she decides to try it out.

This is when things get really interesting!

This is a lovely story of two teenagers who are bookish and lonely and find it difficult to meet people they get along with. The fact that it is set at Christmastime adds to the feel good factor of the tale too. I particularly like the fact that each of Dash’s chapters were written by David Levithan and each of Lily’s chapters were written by Rachel Cohn without them having mapped out a plan for the story beforehand. They wrote each chapter sequentially and shared them only after each one was completed. The story unfolds just like that, especially as in some of the chapters the Dash and Lily have not met in person.

I was sorry when the book ended and headed off to look for the two other books which the authors had co-written.

If you want an entertaining, heart warming, well written story with believable characters, then be sure to pick up Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares which was published by Harlequin UK in Oct 2012.



  1. This sounds fab! I would love to find a book like that, great review!

  2. Me too, Dot. It is a lovely story and the characters are so bookish and love words which added to the enjoyment for me. I am definitely going to pay a visit to the Strand Bookstore next time I am in NYC.