My True Love Gave to Me by Multiple Authors
(Edited by Stephanie Perkins)
If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year's there's something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.
This is going to be a rather lengthy review, because I wanted to write about my thoughts on each of the story stories. What do I think of it overall? It's a cute, fun read with some stories I would have rather skipped. Still, it's a nice book to cozy up with around Christmastime, and I might even pull it out to read next Christmas. My favorite stories were by Stephanie Perkins, Gayle Forman, and Laini Taylor. All for very different reasons. My least favorite stories were by Kelly Link and Holly Black.
Here are my thoughts on the individual stories:
The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link: This was an odd story, and one I did not particularly enjoy. I don't mind a bit of "magic" in my holiday stories, but it was just a little too much and overall forgettable. I didn't sympathize with any of the characters, and the pacing felt off. It felt long, especially for a short story.
Angel in the Snow by Matt de la Pena: This was actually pretty cute! Both characters were flawed, but relatable, and there was definitely some chemistry. It read like a hallmark movie, which is perfect for this time of year. I didn't agree with how the characters handled their situation, but I liked how things managed to work out in the end.
Polaris is Where You'll Find Me: This was a short story, but nothing special. I think my biggest complaint, is that things felt very unresolved. It read like the beginning of a novel, rather than a complete story in itself. Still, I liked the concept of a girl growing up in the North Pole with elves. It reminded me of a less funnier, and shorter, version of the movie Elf. With a female protagonist.
It's a Yultide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins: Yes, yes, yes! Stephanie Perkins can do no wrong when it comes to contemporary romance. From the awkward (and curious) opening paragraph, to the end, I couldn't stop smiling. The dialogue, setting, and characters were all spot on. It's one of the highlights, if not THE highlight, of this entire anthology.
Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan: This was okay, but the story felt a little aimless and I didn't connect with any of the characters. Actually, I rather liked the sister. She had quite a presence on the page, and that was probably the best thing about the short story. It's sweet, but nothing super special.
Krampuslauf: This is my least favorite story, and not because of the writing or the characters. I liked the premise, but was severely lacking in Christmas/Holiday spirit. It felt out of place in this anthology, and I was very put off by it. I'm confused as to why Perkins (as the editor) agreed to use this short story.
What the Hell Have you Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman. I definitely think, by the time we reach Gayle Forman's book, the anthology has hit it's stride. This short story was super cute, and funny! I liked all the characters, and I liked the message portrayed. After all, I'm sure there are many people who are dealing (or have dealt) with losing a loved one during the holiday. Or perhaps you're simply wishing they were here to enjoy the season. Regardless, this short story was funny and touching at the same with (with just the right among of Holiday spirit).
Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire: I laughed a lot during this short story. It's your typical set up: bad guy and good girl. It actually reminded me of a much funnier version of A Walk to Remember (without the sad ending). After this, I am definitely planning on checking out McEntire's other work.
Chrismas, USA by Kiersten White: This has "Hallmark" written all over it. All our main character wants to do is get out of her small town called Christmas. She is working whenever she can to save up enough money, and then a new chef comes to town. He somehow has a knack for knowing the exact dishes people are craving, and it's actually super sweet. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised (and touched) by this story.
Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter: This story was okay, but you needed to suspend your disbelief. Through a series of events, the protagonist finds herself spending a couple days at a stranger's home. I don't want to give away the little twist, but I guess I was expecting more from Ally Condie. I've heard a lot of great things about her Ghallager Girls series.
The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: People are either going to LOVE this story or hate it. I, for one, loved it (and not just because of Laini's gorgeous prose). It's a historical tale with a fantastical twist, about and old courting tradition during the first weeks of December. The writing is magical, the story is magical. I just can't get enough of Laini Taylor's words. It was a wonderful short story to end this anthology with.