Advent Calendar 2010 – Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

Hey everyone!! Welcome to my 2010 Advent Calendar tour post! I’m super excited about my post this year 🙂 I’m reviewing Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan with my dear friend Ana from Things Mean A Lot. Well we’re not exactly reviewing it together so much as we each asked each other three questions about the book and we’re both answering all six. So head on over to Ana’s blog to see all of her answers to the same six questions below and see if we felt the same about the book!

A short synopsis of the book: Dash and Lily are two teens in New York who are both spending Christmas alone this year. Dash, because he has told both of his parents that he is spending Christmas with the other so they have both gone out of town and Lily, because her parents are on a honeymoon. The two form a friendship after Dash finds a red moleskine notebook in The Strand bookstore that sends him on a dare if he so chooses to accept it. In turn, he leaves the notebook for Lily and they communicate this way for awhile going on little mini-adventures and getting to know one another through the notebook and getting to know themselves as well all during Christmas time and New Years in New York.

1. Did you have a favorite narrator? If so, why?

I swear this isn’t a chicken shit answer, but honestly, no….I didn’t have a favorite narrator. I LOVED both Dash and Lily…which doesn’t happen enough for me in novels. Whether this is because authors just don’t often create two likeable characters or because it’s my own personal thing, I don’t know…but these two characters were incredibly awesome. I looked  forward to both of their chapters equally. They were both very real characters. Flawed and all. They were both smart kids who weren’t too smart for their own good…I felt like I could relate to them a lot actually…the whole beating themselves up at times thing and being skeptical of the world at times :/ I liked their ideals….I liked the way they thought…I liked how they loved music and books…the both of them in their own individual ways. And that’s big kudos to Cohn and Levithan’s writing.

2. Without giving too much away, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares does *not* play out like the traditional heart-warming romance you might expect at first. What do you think Cohn and Levithan were going for when they made the protagonists first meeting so different from anything readers might have imagined?

This question has personal meaning for me, doesn’t it Ana? >> What are you trying to tell me????? :p In all seriousness, I think it was perfect the way that they first met. The only communication done before their meeting between the two is in a notebook. And through that notebook, they are able to show only what they *want* to show of themselves….even if they choose to show themselves at a weak moment or when they were at a weak moment in their lives, they still show just what they want of that moment. I think Cohn and Levithan chose to show us a very vulnerable moment…without the notebook there is no choosing what each wanted to show to the other. And *if* they survive that then the relationship has a chance at surviving…whatever it will be afterwards. It’s sort of a deer in the headlights moment…do you avoid the collision or crash into the deer? :/

3. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to have a hard time writing about this book without the phrase “perfect Christmas story” no matter how cliched that sounds. What do you think (Other than the fact that it’s set around Christmas and New Years) makes this such a great Holidays read?

OMG, everything??? LOL. No, seriously, it’s just so warm and filled with love and joy. And a bit of melancholy too which always floats in this time of year for me. It also has that magical feel to it that accompanies this time of year. That “if it can happen at anytime, it can happen now” sort of feeling to it. And it just has one of my favorite scenes in the world in it when Lily bakes Dash Christmas cookies. I don’t know why, but that scene made me want to make Christmas cookies so badly!!! Some people may be sick of hearing about that >> It was just sweet. And it made me crave cookies >>

4. What did you think of the journal as a means of communication between Dash and Lily? Obviously it was central to the plot, but for them getting to know one another?

I LOVED the journal!! Absolutely loved it. And I loved what it became for the two of them. At first it was a game for the two of them. *Sort* of a matchmaking device for Lily, but it quickly became more than that. And while it remained a game and the scavenger hunt continues between the two, we see it evolve into a tool where these two people who have never met share their innermost feelings with each other. And when they feel alone they write to each other. They become important people in each other’s lives. And what I love more than anything is that neither one knows what the other looks like. They don’t know the other’s skin color, weight, height, dress style, etc….Lily just knows that Dash is “snarly” :p But they still form a wonderful bond. I thought it was beautiful.

5. Do you have a favorite secondary character? I know…tough one, right? :p There were so many great ones!

Why did I come up with this question T_T There really are SO MANY fantastic secondary characters in this book. I know who I didn’t like and that was the Santa Claus :/ You’re just going to have to read it to find out why :p But I think my favorite secondary character was Lily’s aunt. She was so fantastic!!! She reminded me a lot of an aunt that I had growing up who passed away when I was nine and I often wondered what our relationship would be like had she lived and I think it would be much like Lily and her aunt’s. She’s a woman that Lily can be open with, is quite liberal in her thinking, respects Lily and doesn’t look down on her because “she’s young”, and respects and cherishes the feelings of others….really liked her.

6. Share a favorite passage from “the moleskine”

“We believe in the wrong things, I wrote, using the same pen Boomer has used on his arm. That’s what frustrates me the most. Not the lack of belief, but the belief in the wrong things. You want meaning? Well, the meanings are out there. We’re just so damn good at reading them wrong.

I wanted to stop there. But I went on.

It’s not going to be explained to you in a prayer. And I’m not going to be able to explain it to you. Not just because I’m as ignorant and hopeful and selectively blind as the next guy, but because I don’t think meaning is something that can be explained. You have to understand it on your own. It’s like when you’re starting to read. First, you learn the letters. then, once you know what sounds the letters make, you use them to sound out words. You know that c-a-t leads to cat and d-o-g leads to dog. But then you have to make that extra leap, to understand that the word, the sound, the ‘cat’ is connected to an actual cat, and that ‘dog’ is connected to an actual dog. It’s that leap, that understanding, that leads to meaning. And a lot of the time in life, we’re still just sounding things out. We know the sentences and how to say them. We know the ideas and how to present them. We know the prayers and which words to say in what order. But that’s only spelling.

I don’t mean this to sound hopeless. Because in the same way that a kid can realize what ‘c-a-t’ means, I think we can find the truths that live behind our words. I wish I could remember the moment when I was a kid and I discovered that the letters linked into words, and that the words linked to real things. What a revelation that must have been. we don’t have the words for it, since we hadn’t yet learned the words. It must have been astonishing, to be given the key to the kingsom and see it turn in our hands so easily.”

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13 Responses

  1. this sounds really good Chris. And I have to say that surprises me because it doesn’t sound like a book I would normally read…but what you and Ana say about it makes me want to read it. (*sigh*)

  2. lol! I was NOT trying to tell you anything with that question – it would be pretty hypocritical of me if I was, as you well know 😉

    I almost picked Mrs Basil E as my favourite secondary character too. She was so awesome!

    Also, I’m going to bake Lebkuchen spice cookies soon and it’s all this book’s fault.

    Thank you for doing this with me, Chris! I had a lot of fun.

  3. I definitely want to read this one now. It sounds wonderful. I like the cookie bit and the idea of the journal.

  4. Sounds like you really enjoyed it!

  5. You guys make this sound so good. I’m really excited to read it.

  6. That Santa was so creepy!!!!! I really liked Dash’s friend Boomer. He reminded me a lot of my best friend Hayden from early high school. 😀

  7. How cute is that cover? I must have seen it before but I guess I forgot up until now. That’s adorable!

  8. As I said over at Ana’s this joint review may lead me to actually read a Christmas book this year.

  9. What a fun idea for a story! I am very intrigued WHAT HAPPENS so I will go add this book to my tbr. Happy Holidays!

  10. This book was so much fun, one of my favourite reads this year!

  11. I’m so shallow I just can’t get over the cover. I love that cover. I’m not sure I care what’s inside; I’d just like to hang that pretty book on my wall.

  12. As I just told Ana, I want to read your review sooooo badly, but since I’m in the middle of the book, I’m going to make myself wait. But oh my gosh, am I LOVING this book. Loving it!!!

  13. […] mean a lot and Stuff As Dreams Are Made On Erin Reads Bart’s Bookshelf Take Me Away Bildungsroman Consumed by Books The Perpetual […]

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