Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
For ages 13 and up
Random House, 2011   ISBN: 978-0375859557

Christmas is just around the corner and Dash has managed, by being a little free with the truth, to arrange things so that he will be alone this festive season. He told his father that he would be with his mother, and his mother that he would be with his father, and therefore both parents made arrangements to be out of town with their respective partners. Dash hates Christmas and so he is delighted that he is going to be able to be a “voluntary orphan” who can dodge all the festive hoopla. What could be better than spending Christmas on his own, and spending most of his time in his favorite bookstore, the Strand.

Lily loves Christmas and she is very peeved that her parents decided to celebrate their wedding anniversary away from home during the holiday, and that her grandfather went to Florida for the festive season. How could they abandon her at such a time? Worse still, her brother Langston is spending all his time with Benny, his current boyfriend, which means that Lily has no one to spend Christmas with. Langston decides that what Lily needs is a project that will keep her busy, one that will make it possible for her to find a “companion” that will suit her.

Langston takes the red Moleskin notebook that Grandpa gave Lily, he writes some clues in it, and then he puts it on a shelf in the Strand bookstore, which is where Dash finds it. Dash starts solving the clues in the book, following the directions he is given to the letter. When he comes to the end of the clues he is asked, if he wishes to continue “this conversation,” to choose a book, to place a piece of paper inside it with email address on it, and to leave the book at the information desk with a guy called Mark.

When Lily retrieves the book she discovers that her correspondent (he does share his name) has chosen The Godfather, and inside the book there is an old menu for a pizza place. On the menu is a post-it note with a quote from a poem. The amazing thing is that Lily recognizes the quote and her knowledge of the poem it comes from makes it possible for her to figure out what her correspondent wants her to do. He wants her to check out The Godfather video from the video store that is attached to the pizza joint. Inside the case of a copy of Godfather III Lily finds another clue on a Post-it note that leads her to yet another video and another note. In the note Lily is asked to choose a video and leave it with Amanda at the front desk. She should include instructions on how she would like to have her red notebook returned to her.

To Dash’s annoyance Lily leaves her note, “Look for the warm woolen mittens with the reindeer on them, please,” inside the case of Miracle on 34th Street. Oh horror! A Christmas movie! Dash understands that he has to go to Macy’s and that is exactly what he does. He follows a trail of clues until he ends up having to talk to Santa. Santa reluctantly hands over an envelope and Dash follows the instructions Lily gives him, and he also leaves a little surprise of his own with the notebook. It would seem that Lily is not the only one who is going to get to send her new pen pal to strange places.

The story in this book is told from alternating points of view. First we hear from “snarly” Dash, and then we hear from jolly, Christmas-loving Lily. Then we hear from Dash again, and so on. It is fascinating to hear the two very different voices of the young people, and to see how their relationship evolves from day to day. They do eventually meet, but things do not go as planned at all, and Lily and Dash have to figure out what their next steps are going to be.

This wonderful story is deliciously quirky and is a must for anyone who loves books, the written word, and people who are unique.