Review: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan


Oh look! A post that isn’t a list! Those still exist, don’t worry. Lately I’ve been completely unable to get into any books, and I would just start something, read a few chapters, and lose interest. Then the process would start again and again. It wasn’t that Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares was such a fanastic book that it dragged me out of that cycle, but it was short enough, and Christmas season-y enough to keep me interested the few train rides it took to finish!

The problem I have with YA books that I’ve read lately, is that they’re not realistic to me. Even though they’re supposed to be “realistic fiction,” most times, an episode of The Walking Dead seems more realistic than the teenagers in these books. I know this judgement of YA isn’t fair. I KNOW. I can suspend disbelief for all the other things I read, but these are different for some reason. Maybe because I wasn’t a teenage that long ago? Maybe because I have a 16 year old brother and 19 year old sister, who would never in a million years behave like the characters in these books. Dash and Lily was not much different, in this regard.

In Short: It was a cute Christmas story, but once again left me feeling like I’m too far out of the age range to truly appreciate it.

Dash is a snarly, bookish, sarcastic sixteen year old who just wants to spend Christmas alone. Lily is a dog walking, Christmas loving, recently abandoned sixteen year old girl who is outraged to be left alone for Christmas. Having ditched his divorced parents for the entire winter break, Dash is wandering through The Strand bookstore in New York City, when he comes across a red Moleskine notebook, with a series of books for him to find. He takes on the challenge, and thus begins the sequence of dares that eventually link Dash and Lily to each other. Amidst these dares are dog walks gone wrong, awkward family encounters, and gangs of mommies with blogs.

I loved the concept of the notebook, and getting to know someone through their words and what inspires and scares and challenges them before you meet them in person. I just found myself wishing that the characters weren’t so stereotypical or just pretentious. Lily has a brother named after Langston Hughes. Dash and Lily are both somehow in love with the poet Marie Howe. It just all felt like they were trying so hard. This was definitely a great book to read during the holiday season, as cold, wintry New York at Christmas is one of the most festive places around, but I think I would sooner recommend this to a younger reader rather than someone my own age.

What are some of your favorite holiday themed books?

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  1. I have similar problems with ya books, at least the ones that are supposed to be realistic. All the teens are these deep, complicated, special snowflakes. Like you said, it seems like they’re trying too hard. For example, I enjoy John Green’s work, but I never encountered a teenager like Margo or Alaska.