Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles. She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books. She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben
Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
As a reader who simply loved Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which was also written by these two fabulous authors, I was beyond excited to find this new novel in my mailbox.
This wonderful story is set at Christmastime in New York City. Dash is a young man who literally despises the holidays. He gets so tired of the numerous Santa Claus figures on every street corner; the Salvation Army bells ringing out across the streets and avenues; and, especially the “moo-like” cattle shopping crowds that make the City impossible to get around. What he does like is the Strand – a bookstore that offers eighteen miles of bookshelves littered with every subject of book imaginable. He loves getting lost inside that building and pretending he’s somewhere else far, far away. The only reason he’s alone this holiday season is because his parents are divorced and he convinced both that he was spending Christmas with the other one, which made them both disappear into their own separate lives and get off his back.
One morning he’s walking through his beloved bookstore and spots a small red, moleskin journal wedged between two books. When he opens the strange item, he witnesses a girl’s handwriting offering clues that lead around the store – clues hidden in books that will allow him to solve the puzzle she’s left behind. This is a FANtastic way to find a boy/girlfriend, by the way. Soon, Dash comes up with the first “answer” and decides to leave his own mysterious clues for the owner of the notebook with the man running the bookstore.
Lily is a young lady who absolutely LOVES Christmas. She’s one of the best Christmas carolers in the universe; in fact, she’s the only one who can remember anything after the second verse of all the well-known Christmas carols. Her parents are off in Fiji celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and have left her and her brother, Langston behind. Now, this is a close family who loves each other very much, so Lily is certainly watched over by people who care about her – even if her older brother is involved with a new boyfriend and doesn’t really have time for his younger sibling at the moment. What does keep Lily busy this Christmas is the fact that someone has found her notebook full of clues in the Strand and they have decided to play their own “game” with her.
The game of clues is hysterical for readers to “watch” play out. Especially when Lily – a person who loves Christmas – ends up sending Dash (Bah, Humbug!) straight to Santa and a very angry elf who believes that Dash is far too old to sit on the beloved icon’s lap. As the story goes on, Dash’s friends as well as Lily’s are pulled into their game but remain quiet about who the other one is that’s playing.
One of the greatest things about this story is the point of whether or not you can actually fall in love with someone through words. In today’s world looks are still the most important thing, yet people have a tendency to find, after a very short time, that once the looks fade there is no substance underneath. To write your thoughts, feelings, dreams, desires, and pain down so that another person can really understand you is a miracle, in a way. If they don’t “know” who you are, they’re not held up by whether or not your hair is blonde or brunette; when they read your innermost feelings, it is the “actual” person they are getting to know. In a way, I believe that would help a great deal of people make better matches in the world and there would be far less divorce cases.
These characters are witty, charming, and explore everything from belief in God, to Santa, to their parents. They prove that love between a ‘positive’ person and a ‘negative’ person can actually work, and that two such different individuals can make an extremely loving, perfect pair. This is a wonderful read for young adults, as well as adults, and will teach many ages about romance, humor, and true faith. A great Christmas present for under the tree! Enjoy!