From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up–Dash and Lily, 16, find themselves on their own in Manhattan at Christmas. Dash is alone by choice–he's told each of his divorced parents that he's spending the holiday with the other, leaving them both to take vacations out of town. Lily's parents are taking the honeymoon they couldn't afford when they got married. They think that Lily is in the capable hands of her older brother, but he's less interested in her than in his new boyfriend, and then he gets sick and spends most of the holiday in bed. He does, however, start in motion the activity that is central to the story. It involves a red Moleskine notebook with a list of literary clues that Lily leaves in the stacks at the Strand bookstore. Bookish and erudite Dash finds it and is intrigued enough to follow Lily's lead and leave some clues of his own. The dares in the book's title refer to innocent things such as going to various crowded places like Macy's and FAO Schwartz to pick up messages. As the dares go on, the teens reveal more and more about themselves in the pages of the notebook, until they finally meet under the worst possible circumstances. While the words, ideas, and sentiments are not those of typical kids, they are not out of the realm of possibility for well-read teens. As they did in Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (Knopf, 2006), the authors combine their talents to write an appealing book. It makes readers long to buy a notebook, begin filling its pages, and find a friend who might turn out to be more. This book will spend as much time off the shelf as Lily's notebook.Suanne Roush, Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
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In their third collaboration, Cohn and Levithan present another clever New York romance. Levithan writes the chapters narrated by Dash, a “bookish” 16-year-old spending Christmas break alone. He finds a red moleskin notebook amid the shelves of the Strand bookstore. “Are you going to be playing for the pure thrill of unreluctant desire?” asks Cohn’s Lily in the first coded message of the notebook, with an invitation to respond. Lily is aglow with the yuletide and devastated that her parents are spending the holidays in Fiji. Armed with anonymity, Dash and Lily exchange the notebook in various locations around the Big Apple, filling it with their greatest hopes and deepest fears, and ultimately find themselves falling in love. Not surprisingly, the young pair’s perceptions of each other don’t entirely reflect reality; Dash’s ex asks if he is in love with the girl writing in the book or the girl he is picturing in his head. The spirit of the season amplifies Dash and Lily’s loneliness and heightens the connection between them, in another surefire hit from the creators of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2006). Grades 9-12. --Courtney Jones
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