In the run up to Christmas I love to get into the Christmas spirit and read a few Christmassy books and so back in September, during a particularly wild Amazon book spree, I purchased ‘Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares’ by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan in preparation for the festive Winter months. When the book arrived with a lovely thump on my doorstep I was very sensible and placed it safely in a hidden corner of my bedroom to sit and wait until the reindeers roamed the streets, tinsel was strung over every available surface and it was okay to be excited for Christmas. I definitely was not going to read this book until Christmas. I wasn’t. I wasn’t! ... I did.
I am currently writing this blog in October… Okay! Okay! So, kill me! I saw a wreath of holly in a passing shop window and I got a teensy bit excited. Well… when I say a ‘teensy bit’ I mean I freaked out in the middle of the street, pre-ordered a new reindeer pattern Christmas jumper, pulled my ‘Snowman’ snow globe down from the spiders in the attic and shook it manically as I began to read ‘Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares’.
But, all that is beside the point. The point is that ‘Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares’ is one of the most wonderful Christmas books that I have ever read! The book follows the story of New York teenagers, Dash and Lily (the co-writers writing the two perspectives chapter for chapter) as they get to know each other over Christmas using only the fantastic dares and challenges they leave each other in a little red Moleskine notebook.
Now, bear in mind, just in case you like to take my word as law (As I know you all definitely do!) that this is not for all you lactose intolerant readers out there. This book definitely has rich, creamy, full-fat gorgonzola cheese as its main ingredient – and I loved it! Cheese is exactly what a Christmas book should have, heck, the entire season is cheesy, not just its literature. There were so many sweet little scenes and Christmassy settings that I could almost smell the cinnamon in the air. I have never in my life left Europe but I’ll be damned if I don’t what Christmas in New York is like after reading that book.
Dash, I thought, was a very unlikely character to appear in a Christmas book and at first I found him quite irritating. The complete opposite to Lily, he hated Christmas and chose to spend Christmas alone, hiding from parties and festivities and delicious gingerbread men. Dash seemed to think himself incredibly deep and troubled because of this particular preference and kept spouting pretentious moody rubbish all the way throughout the book. However, as I became more familiar with the characters and their individual thoughts and feelings I began to realise that this was no accident. Dash was meant to be annoying! Though infuriating, it was crucial to the plotline and I actually began to become quite fond of this particular personality quirk.
I liked Lily straight off the bat! I think her best contribution to the novel as a whole is her close connection with her family. Lily’s relatives feature a lot throughout the novel and though they may only be minor parts I think collectively they make the book more Christmassy than any number of snowflake baubles, giant nutcrackers or North-Pole themed mittens. This may only be a personal opinion, but, to me, family is the most important aspect of Christmas and I know that if Cohn and Levithan had forgotten to sprinkle a few aunts, uncles and lazy older brothers into their writing, then the book would not make my heart swell as much as it did.
Because I am a lazy blogger, now, as I finish this blog, the calendar reads December 15th. I have read ‘Dash and Lily’ again since my little (massive) Christmas freak out back in October and I can confirm to you that nothing I have said as thus is a lie - induced by an early dose of mistletoe and fake shop-display snow. The book manages to maintain its lovely warmth and sweetness for the re-read and if, still, this late into December, you haven’t yet felt that familiar glow that comes from warm mince pies and santa-shaped mittens, then I guarantee you, this is the book to kick-start your holiday spirit!