Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010
Source: Kindle purchase
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
First, I would like to say that overall this was a pretty decent book, despite the 2 star rating. I also want to point out that I'm probably not their target audience, however I do, on occasion, enjoy a well written teen romance with fully developed characters who aren't incredibly sappy. In this book we meet two characters who seem to be complete opposites: Dash, a cynical kid who, due to his parents' divorce and his own intelligence, has managed to be alone for the holidays and Lily, a straight-laced, loves-Christmas, and does what she's told girl with very overprotective family members whose parents are off on a honeymoon they didn't get to celebrate 20 some years earlier. When Dash finds a notebook with odd instructions in it, he follows them (what else would you do?) and then leaves instructions for the mystery girl. The notebook is passed back and forth between the two with new instructions as well as thoughtful and very open letters as they get to know one another through the notebook. How will this relationship live when it's brought out into the real world and they actually meet?
My sixteen year old self may have actually tried something like this after reading this book. Just saying. I was intrigued by their exchanges and the different "dares" they sent one another on throughout the Christmas season. Dash's character bothered me a little. He was so incredibly snarky that it was really difficult to like him or even believe in his character. Maybe I just didn't like him. I don't know, but it was off putting for me. And the symposium he has with his friends on love was strange. It was like he was lecturing them all and they were members of some weird college course on love. It completely took me out of the story. Lily wasn't so bad and I didn't have an issue with her character except that she seemed a little too naive at times.
The character that really and truly blew it for me was Boomer, Dash's friend. I was confused for a long time whether or not Boomer was actually a younger kid Dash had befriended. Using him for comedic effect really just became confusing and annoying. I kept waiting to find out what the story was behind Boomer because he just doesn't seem like he would be in high school unless he was high all the time and that didn't seem to be the case either. I found myself stopping every time his character arrived in the scene and wondering what was up with him.
Maybe some readers who are more into romance and don't have such a cynical view of romance will enjoy it more. I had a hard time with it, though. I will say it is a very appropriate read for high schoolers. For the most part I would also say it's appropriate for middle school students, depending on their maturity level.
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