Dash and Lily have now been going out for nearly a year – and it’s been a really hard year. Lily’s beloved grandfather had a heart attack and fell down some stairs. He survived, but his recovery has been slow. Lily insists that everything’s fine. But Dash knows that her spirit is sagging. Her enthusiasm has been exhausted. And even with Christmastime, her favourite time, approaching, she doesn’t really feel…anything.
Action must be taken. There are twelve days until Christmas. Twelve days for friends and family to take Manhattan by storm to help Lily recapture the magic of New York City in December. Twelve days to find Lily’s cheer, and help her fall in love with life again. Twelve days left for Dash and Lily…?
There’s nothing I love more than books that get you in the mood for Christmas — that make you snuggle up on the couch wrapped in a blanket despite the 40 degree heat outside, fill your soul with the same warmth you get from drinking a hot gingerbread latte, and encourage you to see the magic in the everyday and the extraordinary in the ordinary. If there’s something I love most about this holiday, it’s being transported to a place far more whimsical than the undecorated, unlit state of my living room and living in a world where the Christmas spirit is the driving force of a narrative. The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily definitely achieved that, whether it was through the witty banter about Christmas that made me laugh out loud or the fervent frenzy to make Lily feel inspired and in awe by this time of year once again, I felt as though I was living out this journey right alongside the characters. If you’re looking for a transportive Christmassy read with a bit of a darker side at times, this one is perfect for you.
However, there are some darker parts to this one, and it’s not a completely happy novel all the time. Lily is sad and overwhelmed by the constant flow of negativity and heart-breaking occurrences in her life, and Dash is seen to desperately try to cheer her up. It was heart-wrenching to see her struggling with the failing health of a loved one and being unable to see the joy that surrounds Christmas, but what I loved most was coming to the realisation that the most magical part of Christmas isn’t the lights or the presents, it’s the people around you. For me, this journey was made even more extraordinary because we feel the pain through Lily and we see the desire through Dash to make her feel better, but in the end, it’s not the things you give that necessarily turns things around. It was the realisation of their beautiful friendship and the knowledge that they’d do anything for one another that made it a truly lovely read.
I think it’s also important to recognise that illnesses of any type, including depression, like Lily is shown to be suffering from, don’t take a break over the holidays or the festive season — and that’s highlighted in The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily. Sometimes people forget that these illnesses are still present even when you don’t want them to be and that you can’t always change how you feel based on what others say to you or how desperately you might try to pull yourself out of that all-consuming sadness or emotion. While it was frustrating at times to see Lily refuse help from her friends and see her bury herself in her sadness, it felt honest and real in the way that she suffered and I liked how she wasn’t automatically ‘cured’ of her sadness just because it was Christmastime. Although this can be quite a draining read at times and difficult to get through because of that aspect — and it’s definitely not the light-hearted, fun read Dash and Lily’s Books of Dares was — it was still a very touching, poignant novel about the hardships of dealing with loss and trying to learn to accept things that are out of your control.
Ultimately, The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily is a heart-wrenching but optimistic novel filled with Christmas references and trips through New York City, and it leaves you with the poignant realisation that the things that get you through the hard times are in fact the people that surround you. If you’re looking for a festive read that is a little more heavy in parts and is original in its acknowledgement of the harder parts of life and how one deals with loss, then this book is perfect for you!
Have you read either Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares or The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily? Do you enjoy Christmas-themed books? What’s the last Christmassy novel you’ve read? I’d love to know!
Thanks to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Title: The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily
Publication date: November 2016
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Australian RRP: $19.99