I bought this book because it reminded me so much of one of my favourite films of all time. A french film starring the beautiful Marion Cotillard called "Jeux D'enfants" or in English "Love Me If You Dare", although literally it means, "Child's Play". The whole film revolved around best friends Julien and Sophie who dare each other from childhood to adulthood with a tin box that they pass from one to the other as each dare is completed. As they grow up, the dares become more daring and risky. Suffice it to say, it's a great film.
But that aside - I bought the book because it followed the same concept, and therefore, I had a feeling it would be just as great.
I was wrong, because it surpassed greatness.
I have not been obsessed with a book this way in such a long time. This book is absolutely incredible in every way possible. I know I'm gushing here, but I honestly cannot help it! Dash and Lily are both such great characters. In fact, I've decided I'm calling my children Dash and Lily (and not Dash short for Dashiell, but just Dash, as in the connector of words).
Dash is, as Lily likes to put it, quite dashing. And Lily is the perfect teen model. It is extremely easy to fall for the both of them, and from the very beginning you root for them, wanting this to work out so bad. When Lily messed up at one point, I was literally at the edge of my seat wanting to scream, "NO! NO! NO!" Thankfully, it didn't last long, I couldn't have handled it otherwise.
Dash is such a clever, smart-mouthed, witty, yet cynical guy with information flowing out of him in such a remarkable, yet amusing manner that it makes him seem almost unreal. Whereas Lily is a little more believable, more human - if you may. The story takes place around Christmas time, where Dash is being a grinch about it and decides to spend it alone. Only, his solitude is interrupted when he happens across a red Moleskin right next to his favourite book in a second-hand bookstore that he frequents. In that notebook, is a dare. Dash accepts the dare, and upon completing it, issues a dare of his own. And hence, their adventure begins.
Lily, is a Christmas fanatic, loving absolutely every aspect of the season and the holiday, and always looking forward to it. Only this Christmas, her parents decided to take a belated honeymoon vacation, leaving her with her brother to spend Christmas on her own. She is a loner in one sense, but has a huge extended family, who more or less make up for the lack of friends. She loves pets, gets overly emotional when she loses them, loves soccer, reading, and writing apparently.
In fact, a lot of the time spent with the notebook is spent writing. Written are some of the most profound passages I've ever read in a young adult book. In fact, I've marked each and every one of them in order to go back to them time and again.
The book talked a lot about expectations, anticipation, assumptions and how well you can actually get to know a person. Dash and Lily started out as complete strangers, who simply met through written words. Yet the whole connection between them was established through those words. Almost like meeting someone online, only they did it in a more old fashion way. It makes you question and believe the power of words, and whether that is enough to create such a strong connection to someone.
One of my favourite passages was when Dash writes about letters forming words and those words being interpreted differently by people. He writes, "I wish I could remember the moment when I was a kid and I discovered that the letters linked into words, and that the words linked to real things. What a revelation that must have been. We don't have the words for it, since we hadn't yet learned the words. It must have been astonishing, to be given the key to the kingdom and see it turn in our hands so easily" (p.87).
Genius I tell you. Pure and utter genius. Yet so simple. It makes me hate myself for not coming up with it first.
Not to mention all the hilarious, laugh out loud moments in the book. I cannot begin to list them all, but I know I was stifling my laughter a lot of the time while reading it in public. The funniest thing ever in the book, is the Pixar film spoof that Rachel Cohn and David Levithan created, complete with title, characters (which consisted of office supplies), celebrity voice-overs, plot, merchandise, and separate interpretations by both Lily and Dash. Let's put it this way, the paper and the stapler fall in love - need I say more?
Cohn and Levithan, you've made me realise - I want to be stapled too.
P.S. And did I mention how I absolutely loved the reference to Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, when Lily was sitting in the bathroom stall and happened to read Norah's message to Nick?