Sunday, December 16, 2012

25 Days of Holiday Book Reviews: Jen Loves On Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

Maestra Amanda asked me to share a holiday book review today and I nearly jumped out of my seat in excitement because that would mean I could tell all the world how much I truly love Dash and Lily's Book of Dares (again)! Thank you to Amanda for giving me this wonderful opportunity to spread the Dash and Lily Christmas love! Head over to her blog for a chance to win your own copy of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares that we're giving away!

It's not truly Christmas for me until I reread Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Really, it's just not. I look at the snowy cover of this book and so many feelings and memories of the story held within its pages come back to me. I've gushed over this book in my review here before so I will try not to repeat myself...I mean, I will try and tell you again how insanely excellent this book is, I'll just try to do it in a different way.

Snow-swirling, holiday love story all wrapped up in one little bookish package!
This book is a collaboration between two wonderfully talented authors, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Chapters alternate back and forth between Dash and Lily. Dash is a tad bitter and grumbly about Christmas...or just over Christmas really but Lily exudes Christmas cheer. The two meet when Lily leaves a red Moleskine notebook at The Strand, a bookstore in New York, and the end up passing the notebook back and forth on a kind of get-to-know-you, holiday-dare, scavenger hunt.

In looking through reviews on GoodReads, this is what my lovely friend and author, Kate Messner said:

"I loved this book, in part because Lily reminds me so frighteningly of a teenaged me, and in part because it's just so warm, wonderful, and funny. It's a delightful literary love story, and do you not love a romantic comedy where the main characters are introduced via a red Moleskine notebook left on a shelf at the Strand bookstore? Highly recommended with a mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows."

What Kate says resonates with me so much because I completely see myself in Lily. I love her energy and how Rachel Cohn writes her character. I can totally identify with her positive energy. There are definitely parts that are written in a stream of consciousness style that remind me so much of my own uber-girly writing. 

The writing in this book is smart. It's brilliant really, but it's that smart kind of writing that makes you stop and wonder if these words and sentences could really, truly come out of a 16-year-old's mouth. But they potentially could. Maybe not every 16-year-old's mouth but that's okay, let's just let ourselves love this witty, snarky, eloquent, articulate prose as readers. If you've read any of John Green's books, like maybe *cough* the best YA book of 2012 *cough* The Fault in Our Stars or Will Grayson, Will Grayson (written with David Levithan, actually...), and you enjoy his work, then I think you will love this book. 

What I thought I would share this year as part of my review are some ideas for how I would use this as a mentor text for writing.

Writing Ideas for Dash and Lily's Book of Dares:

1. This book has one of the best beginnings. No matter how many times I have read this book, the beginning still holds so much anticipation of the story to come. In a handful of lines, David sets up the possibility of all that can happen in the rest of the story. It's great to look at this and see what he has done but you could also look at the beginning and then imagine where you would take the characters if it was the beginning of your story.

2. Rachel starts the second chapter with Lily telling us what she loves about Christmas. It's a half-page ode to why she loves Christmas but it's also our first glimpse at Lily as a character and it's easy to see the kind of character she is just from how you have to basically read this paragraph in one breath. Students could describe why they love Christmas or another holiday and try to capture their feelings in their description.

3. Dash and Lily's relationship exists within the red Moleskine notebook for most of the book. I think it's an interesting parallel with social media and online interactions that seem more and more common in this day and age. I think it would be interesting to ask students to think about how our interactions are different and/or similar in real life from written communication (whether it be through writing notes/letters, texts, IMs (do people still IM? IDK), tweets, Facebook wall posts, etc. It's interesting to think how we are similar or different in writing compared to in person.

4. I don't want to give too much away but there is a point in the book when one person disappoints another person. I think it's pretty inevitable that in any friendship one person is going to disappoint the other person at some point, whether it's a big disappointment or just a little disappointment. In the book, they talk about second chances - about giving someone a second chance and about being worthy of a second chance. This is a great opportunity to ask students to think about what it means to disappoint someone and what it means to repair a relationship after that. I can see how this would be a great topic to get kids started on a personal narrative. Can't you just feel the tension already? 

If you haven't read this, I dare you to pick it up this holiday season!
(Don't forget the giveaway at Amanda's blog!)

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