Release Date: 10/26/10 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult (13+)
Source: Public Library (Local)Overall Feelings: Fun, deep, &heartfelt!
(Summary) I have to say, beginning from page one, I cracked up alot, enjoyed myself.
The entire book is told between Dash and Lily's POV, so, for once, I truly lost myself in the first person narrative. The thing that really got me though, was that both these characters are deep and relatable people. I mostly resonated with Lily, but I sympathized with Dash also. It was a lovely, heartfelt combo.
Dash is not so much serious, more he's cynical and sarcastic and reserved, whereas Lily is quite the opposite. She's light and warm and optimistic. So, what makes these two mesh so well together? Well, while Dash may be one way, he still possesses a gleam of hope. And though Lily may be a very happy, caring girl she also has doubts, insecurities, and hurts. This provides them with a channel of similarity which they share. But, I wouldn't have grasped this had I not been inside their heads, had I not shared their every thought and feeling.
Cohn and Levithan did a fantastic job in bringing these two very different (yet similar) people together. The concept of the moleskine notebook filled with dares/challenges to pass back and forth between the two, for me, was fun, hilarious, and profound. I think I got to know Lily and Dash better when they began writing to each other, using the red moleskine as a medium. When they were without the journal, I had been immersed in their struggle. Dash explains it best: "When I got back to the apartment, I decided to write to Lily anyway. I fear you may have outmatched me, because now I find these words have nowhere to go. It's hard to answer a question you haven't been asked. It's hard to show that you tried unless you end up succeeding. I stopped. It wasn't the same without the notebook. It didn't feel like a conversation. It felt like I was talking to silence" (121). It had been nice to discover that while the book is downright entertaining and witty and side-splitting, there is some degree of seriousness, of depth.
I was pleased with the side characters, their roles in the storyline, their involvement in the red journal swapping between Lily and Dash. The correlation between Mark, Lily's protective cousin, and Grandpa, Lily's grandfather, is priceless. They are one defensive duo alright. I enjoyed Boomer, his weirdness, his insight, his ineptness. Langston, Lily's brother, and Benny, Langston's boyfriend, are a nice comical addition to the novel. I also liked Lily's strange family members, ESPECIALLY Mrs. Basil E. Oh, what a character she is!
A conversation between Mrs. Basil E. and Dash:The romance aspect of the novel did not disappoint, thankfully. I'm very particular about how a romance evolves, and watching Dash and Lily get to know each other, dig down deep enough to find the core of each other, truly understand each other, had been incredibly rewarding. Their relationship gradually developed, then flourished by the end.
"'I need to gauge your intentions,' she said, 'before I can allow you to dillydally with my niece.'
'I can assure you I have neither dillying nor dallying on my mind,' I replied. 'I simply want to meet her. In person. You see, we've been--'
She raised her hand to cut me off. 'I know all about your epistolary flirtation. Which is all well and good--as long as it's well and good. Before I ask you some questions, perhaps you would like some tea?'
'That would depend on what kind of tea you were offering.'
'So diffident. Suppose it was Earl Grey.'
I shook my head. 'Tastes like pencil shavings.'
'I don't drink beverages named after beheaded monarchs. It seems so tacky.'
'Might as well sip butterfly wings.'
'You can't be serious.'
The old woman nodded her approval. 'I wasn't.'
Ah, the end. The ending was just downright beautiful. A sensational, warm kiss impacted me unlike many other physical scenes I've read. //SPOILERISH//And then those last few paragraphs...Lily awakening Dash as someone who "was going to do her best to cherish this new person, whose name she finally knew" (260). Marvelous, just marvelous.
If you have a single funny, romantic bone in your body pick up Dash & Lily's Book of Dares.
Thanks for reading!