Authors: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Summary: 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. 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 version? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?
The Dish: We're all looking for that "someone" aren't we? That "special someone" that we can completely open ourselves to without fear, without masks, without regret. What if you decided to take a chance on someone that you had never met but only knew through the writings found in a notebook placed in a bookstore? That's just what Dash decides to do and thus "meets" Lily and so begins the exchange of dares placed within the pages of a red notebook.
It was a little hard getting to know Dash in the first couple of chapters simply because of his slightly cynical nature while Lily was an adorable gem of a girl. However, after more of their backgrounds are revealed, I definitely saw myself falling for Dash, or at least wanting to hear more of his story. And for him to just take a risk like this on a whim, that really shows how much he wants to believe that life is more than just the cynicism he has felt. He definitely has a good heart, and it shows in the company he keeps, particularly in one John Boomer known by his friends as just "Boomer." This friend of Dash's while rather energetic is a definite example of the pure goodness one can find if they only look hard enough. And it is his association with Dash that really helps Lily to see more of the boy behind the words.
Lily had quite a bit of growing up to do in order to find "herself" especially since she's been sheltered by her parents and grandfather for so long. I can definitely relate to her situation, though she wasn't sheltered from the things I was. Having an older brother like Langston was a definite blessing even if he became a bit dramatic at times, but he was there for her when she needed him. And without his involvement, Lily would not have even taken such a risk with getting to know and meeting Dash. I was surprised at some of her actions as the story progressed, but this was part of her growth process. Sometimes, one has to be ankle deep in sludge before they realize their real potential and who they truly are, and I know Lily learned that lesson well.
Meeting Dash's friends and Lily's family through the tasks of giving the notebook to whomever needed it was a sheer delight. Out of all the side characters, my two favorites were probably Mrs. Basil E (Lily's great-aunt Ida) and Boomer. Their interactions with both Dash and Lily were intriguing, enlightening, and hilarious, thus helping to move the story, as well as Dash and Lily's relationship, forward. I was a little concerned when an ex-girlfriend came back into the picture and thought this would create more conflict, but she was surprising with the advice she offered to Dash. Levithan really created a different story for Dash in that regard, and I was happy with his choice.
Overall, this was a wonderful and light read, and given the season of the story is nearing now, I would recommend it as a holiday book. This is one book readers will definitely want in their personal library.