Dash is perusing the 18 miles of books at New York City’s legendary Strand bookstore when a flash of red catches his eye. It’s a Moleskine notebook with “DO YOU DARE?” scrawled on the cover, and a series of clues encoded inside. Will he take the bait, even if it means approaching the counter to ask for a novel called Fat Hoochie Prom Queen?
Lucky for us, the answer is “Yes.” Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is the third collaboration between Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, and the magic they create together is not just holding but getting stronger. Dash and Lily are each spending the winter holidays without their parents, and they begin sending each other on more ridiculous and risky missions, abetted by friends, family, a custom-designed Muppet and the iconic red notebook. Along the way a department-store Santa is inappropriately groped, a baby is catapulted through the air in Washington Square Park, and information is extorted under the threat of a spontaneous recitation from the works of James Patterson. Did I mention the 2 a.m. Christmas/Hanukkah mosh pit?
Somehow all these antics (and more!) combine to create a surprisingly chaste and tender love story. Lily’s sweet optimism might soften the “snarly” side of Dash that everyone sees, and he lures her out of a comfort zone that’s concealing a fear of life. So here’s my list for the next several Christmases: more intelligent, heartfelt hilarity from these two talented authors.