A book that I read this year has really made a lasting impressions on me: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. It would very possibly be on my keeper shelves if I still did that kind of thing, and if I hadn't borrowed the book from the library.
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares was by first foray into modern day YA fiction. This sub-genre seems to be all the rage these days, and I'm seeing more and more of my own friends reading these books. Can we blame Harry Potter on this growing trend? Or am I just late to the poker table and have a lot of catching up to do? Seriously, I now have a lengthy list of YA books on my TBB.
Lily takes her brother and his boyfriend up on a dare of sorts to start a journal and leave it on the shelves at the Strand, hoping that an interested party will "bite" and take part in an adventure that will take them across the city of New York during the Christmas holidays. Dash just happens to be the lucky guy to find Lily's journal as he's perusing the shelves of the beloved bookstore, and he cannot ignore the challenge. Plus he's bored and on his own this holiday season. Dash is a holiday bah-humbug to Lily's effervescent holiday cheer. She loves the season and is really needing to find new traditions this year since she's on her own with her brother for Christmas.
What follows is a surprisingly endearing journey as each leave clues for the other on their quest of dares, never knowing quite where they'll go next, or if they'll ever meet for real. For me, the eye-opener was the maturity of Dash and his fight to keep his personal views of what he thinks Lily will be like realistic -- is she his dream girl, or is he making too much of this, only to be let down in the end by his own fantasies?
For me, Dash was the best part of the book. I'd read in other reviews where he goes from hating Christmas to being a little more tolerant of it, and that's true. While he's certainly not a card-carrying member of Santas R Us by the end of the book, he's more softened around the edges while maintaining his 'coolness'. I wish there had been more guys like Dash in my teen years. Seriously.
Other things I loved about this book -- Lily's diehard intent to keep up with as many holiday traditions she and her family have created over the years. Dude, that is so me. I love love love lurve Christmas and sincerely subscribe to the entire 'most wonderful time of the year' hullabaloo. But this year, for Lily, Christmas is different and her life may change irrevocably because of it. But damnit, she's still going to go caroling and bake cookies, and infuse as much holiday cheer as she can.
One other thing I noticed was Dash's love of the English language. For reals -- his favorite book could very well be the Oxford English Dictionary.
With the exception of a few "F" bombs and some situations that would not be tolerated by my parents when I was their age, I could so see my paternal grandparents giving Dash & Lily's Book of Dares their blessing if it would encourage kids to read. I easily identified with the two teens and their adoration of the bookstore, because honestly, that was me in my younger days (still is).
I'm already eyeballing Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by the same authors. I blame my new interest in YA on Nath when she'd mentioned Dash & Lily's Book of Dares late last year on her blog. My book budget that's about to be blown into smithereens is entirely her fault. Ha...