My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I absolutely loved the idea of communicating through a notebook hidden in a bookstore. It’s not like it hasn’t been done before, You’ve Got Mail and Message in a Bottle, but the fact that it was a bookstore and it wasn’t lonely thirty somethings communicating made it endearing. Plus, it was a notebook of dares, unwittingly making the communicants try things they wouldn’t usually do, as well as a notebook of self-reflection and trust. I truly loved the idea that a notebook can be hidden in random places and especially in a bookstore, a place where everything is arranged and rearranged daily, and not get thrown out the same day the notebook is placed.
Dash, the lead male character, might as well be equivalent to word vomit, not in the way that when he talks it all pours out but in the way that he is obsessed with words. Lily is a cooky, overprotected good girl from a large family. Two people who practically have nothing in common (except that they are related to well-read people and love books themselves), yet they fit so well together. And one of the best things is that this book doesn’t even point out that they are opposites. The story shows you how they are different, in their families, how they see the world, their friends, the experiences that shaped them but it never highlights the opposition of characters (thus, it doesn’t market the story as an opposites-attract gimmick).
This was an adorable read–insightful enough to be believable to be from the point of view of a couple of standout teenagers. Lessons or philosophies in life and love, theories, and facts of life are present (the absence of these would not make it a YA book, I believe) but they are not delivered in a way that sounds preachy. It’s hard to show that you tried unless you end up succeeding.; I wanted to ask, what does a stranger feel like? Not to be snarky or sarcastic. Because I really wanted to know if there was a difference, if there was a way to become truly knowable, if there wasn’t always something keeping you a stranger, even to the people you weren’t strange to at all. The story ended a bit abruptly for my taste (there were a couple of unresolved issues on Lily’s side of the story) but it was a good ending that fit the story and everything it was trying to show/teach the reader.
Stylistically and grammatically, this was better than Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Cohn and Levithan’s first collaboration. I’m glad I tried to read this at Fully Booked, otherwise I’d never have read it (out of fear from the Cohn-Levithan headache induced by run-on sentences Nick and Norah left me with). Oh and this story is in the same !verse as Nick and Norah, a feeling I had when Lily entered a dive bar and went to a bathroom stall as the notebook told her to–the ‘feeling’ of the bar was the same. My suspicions were confirmed when one of my favorite lines from N&N appeared in this book: A sharpie scribble on a stall,
The Cure. For the exes.