Module 7: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares


Book Summary:

Lily and Dash each find themselves at home without parents for Christmas, but that’s about where the similarities in their situations end. Lily is upset, she feels abandoned by her parents who have left New York for Fiji and her brother who would rather snog his boyfriend than do Christmas activities with her. Dash, however, intentionally tricked his divorced parents into believing he’s with the other for the holidays. Lily’s brother, tired of Lily’s whining and moping, takes it upon himself to make her have some fun over the holiday. That’s where the book of dares come in. Lily’s brother plants a red Molskine notebook in a bookstore next to Lily’s favorite book just waiting to see who, if anyone, would be brave enough to accept the challenge it presents.  But lo and behold Lily’s favorite book happens to be Dash’s favorite book which is how he discovers it, cracks the notebook’s riddles, and answers its dare which leads him and Lily on a series of holiday adventures.

APA Reference of Book:

Cohn, R. & Levithan, D. (2010). Dash and Lily’s book of dares. New York, NY: Knoph.


I generally love anything that Rachel Cohn and David Levithan team up to write, so I was really excited to pick this book up. I have to say that I was not disappointed. If you liked Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (the book, not the movie) then I think you should absolutely gives this book a chance. For those of you who are unfamiliar with a Cohn and Levithan collaboration, basically they do no plotting of their book. Rachel writes the female’s part—in this case Lily’s—and David writes for the male character, Dash. The chapters alternate between the characters and therefore the authors. Neither author has any idea what the other one is planning to write until they receive that author’s chapter.  Needless to say, this too and fro between the authors can really make for a fun book. I feel like you can just tell that the authors are enjoying themselves when they write so in makes the books feel fun as well. That being said, it also allows for each of the characters to genuinely feel different from one another. Side note: I don’t know about any of you, but I really hate it when a male author writes a female character that just seems stereotypically girly or a female author writes about her very manly main character knowing that his girlfriend has Ralph Lauren sheets. Some men may intuitively know that the bed linens are designer, but I am willing to bet that not many actually do or care, which is a very round about way of saying that Cohn and Levithan help alleviate any of this by co-authoring their work.

Professional Review:

“Cohn and Levithan use a familiar but fun formula for this holiday-themed collaboration—think Saint Nick & Norah—mixing an enticing premise with offbeat characters and some introspective soul searching. Two New York City teens left alone for Christmas ‘meet’ when Dash discovers Lily’s cryptic notebook wedged between J.D. Salinger books at the Strand. Its clues lead him on a treasure hunt through the bookstore; he responds with his own clues, and soon they are using the notebook to send each other on adventures across the city and to trade their ‘innermost feelings and thoughts.’ Fans will enjoy the zingy descriptions and characterizations that populate this Big Apple romp (at one point, Dash must reach inside the coat of the Macy’s Santa to retrieve Lily’s message; later, he sends her to go see a ‘gay Jewish dancepop/indie/punk band called Silly Rabbi, Tricks Are for Yids’). Readers will be ready for the real romance to start long before the inevitable conclusion, but as with this duo’s past books, there are more than enough amusing turns of phrase and zigzag plot twists to keep their attention. Ages 12–up.”

(2010, October 4). [Review of the book Dash and Lily’s book of dares, by R. Cohn & D. Levithan]. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from:

Library Uses:

Since a lot of the interactions between Dash and Lily come through their notebook and their elaborate scavenger hunt to pass it back and forth each time, I would use this book as a premise for a scavenger hunt for the young adult readers in the library. It could either be a one night event in which they solve puzzles and do dares to get clues or it could be a more drawn out scavenger hunt that takes place over a couple of weeks.


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