Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How long do first impressions last?

Dash & Lily's Book of DaresDash & Lily's Book of Dares
by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Luckily for Dash and Lily, first impressions are rewritable. In an adventure full of missed opportunities and misunderstandings, Dash and Lily break all the rules about friendship and love and acceptance.

This book is an example of the whole being greater than its parts. When I first met Dash, I was disappointed by his bah-humbugness, and Lily was so lovable, she was, well, quite annoying. Dash was just a little too metrosexual and Lily was just a little too childish for me to ever believe them as real people let alone romantic leads. But I kept reading because a book beginning in The Strand with a Moleskine Notebook has to be a good, right? And somewhere between an ugly Beatles Muppet and a missing majorette boot, I was introduced to this secondary cast of characters I began to love, so I had to love Dash and Lily because Aunt Ida and Mark and Sofia and Boomer love them. Through them, I began to see that Lily's perpetual positivity hides her fear of loneliness and Dash's snarl is only temporary until he can find fanciful.

As it turns out, this novel is the anti-fairy tale. It's an exploration of a slow-burning love that grows by choice instead of lust. The characters have this wholesome innocence (a description I never expected to use about a Cohn/Levithan novel) overshadowed only by their desire to live life. While I still don't like the melodramatic baby-catching scene (it reminded me a little too much of Will Grayson, Will Grayson), and I felt this book digressed from the rawness of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and the fullness of characters in Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List (in part because the Dasha and Lily are younger characters), the romance and truthfulness of this novel stole my heart. Unlike most romantic comedies, I found myself wondering if they would ever come together in the end and if this mismatched pair would ever realize that together, they are greater than their parts.

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