Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 25th 2010
“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.”
So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.
I was a huge fan of the movie version of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist but somehow never got around to reading the book. If you met my TBR pile, you’d know why! So when I kept hearing good things about Cohn and Leviathan’s latest offering I knew I had to give it a whirl. I was a little wary as to whether the charm and frivolity captured so well in my beloved movie would be apparent on the written page of Dash&Lily and happily I wasn’t disappointed.
Dash & Lily is a breath of fresh air in the world of teenage romance books. A slow burner, we get to really know the characters seperately before they meet rather than a couple of breathless interactions before the inevitable teeth gnashing kiss or worse the long drawn out melodrama before the kiss happens and your nerves are screaming!
Both characters are at a loose end for Christmas as their respective parents are enjoying breaks abroad. Lily’s brother Langston, hoping for some time alone with his boyfriend devises a way for his little sister to meet a boy worthy of her high-brow attentions and writes clues in a little red moleskine notebook for the unassuming potential mate to find and follow to meet his prize.
Dash is that unassuming boy, wandering the aisles of his favourite bookshop, he takes the challenge and so begins an adventure of hijinks, laughter, introspection, heartbreak and love.
There are many adjectives to describe this book. Cute, smart, sweet, charming. It’s also somewhat irritating in its effort to be “Too cool for school” with it’s constant pop culture references that appeal to hipsters forever quoting Salinger, in their Toms loafers whilst uploading their latest pic to instagram. In spite of that, the heart of the story shines through as both characters long to find a place to belong and that special person to share it with.
The story flows remarkably well considering there was no actual discussion between the authors regarding plot points as they simply traded emails of latest chapters and continued where the other had left off. In the middle there’s a dip in the action and a melancholy period of introspection occurs which was difficult to get through. I don’t personally think it was the writing that was lacking but the subject matter that was slightly hard to swallow. The pain of two teenagers alone on Christmas may be a bit of a First World Problem but it was no less heartbreaking to read Dash & Lily trade memories of both their happiest and most painful of holiday memories. The sad moments are interspersed happily with moment of pure silliness, usually provided by Boomer, Dash’s irrespressible friend, forever getting into mischief whilst bringing our two heroes closer together.
The inevitable meet up is a disaster and the following awkwardness feels real and not oversimplified as often seen in similiar YA books. As the two navigate the minefield of their emotions and preconceptions of each other, their friendship deepens and they end up back where it all began…in the bookshop that brought two lonely souls together and gave them hope.
This book is a fun, light read with adorable,earnest characters, sweet and whilst painfully hipster-ish at time, never overly kitschy with quick-witted banter and intelligent characters with distinctive voices and personalities. Highly enjoyable!