Book Review: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories Edited by Stephanie Perkins

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Edited by Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance, Holiday
ISBN: 978-1250059307
Source: NetGalley, Library
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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 (Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White), edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, 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.

Melody here! This is the first joint review between myself and Sarah. The first three paragraphs are written by me, a general overview of the collection and then I hand it over to Sarah for a more in depth look. Here we go…

So, I don’t read many short stories but if there’s one collection of short stories worth checking out, it’s going to be one set around my favorite time of year! Two of these short stories take place during New Year’s Eve and the others… Christmas! Chanukah does get recognized as well! I really enjoyed seeing the route each of the authors took with their stories, that was intriguing all by itself. I loved following so many characters as they made their way through romantic relationships, new and old friendships and went on journeys that helped them hold onto faith and hope and dreaming and new beginnings.

Though this is the first collection of short stories that I have finished and after doing so, I think it’s official… I am not a huge fan of short stories. I like them but rarely. I like reading a handful of really powerful, thought provoking short stories throughout the year and that’s enough for me. So to read twelve of them with the same light holiday feel (which I was totally on board for), it actually brought on a bit of a “which one is the best” attitude. And by best I mean most gripping to me.

I think I was most drawn to It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins, What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman, Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire, Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White, and Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter. I really appreciated the diversity in Gayle’s story, the tone of Stephanie’s story (this is the first piece of work that I’ve read from her and I can’t wait to read Anna, Lola, and Isla now more than ever), and getting back to the voice of Myra and Kiersten whose voices I love. This was a great read that I recommend to buy and place on your coffee table for your family members next Christmas.

Take it away, Sarah!


Midnights by Rainbow Rowell – 5 Stars
This story takes place on New Year’s Eve throughout the teenage years of Mags and Noel. Each New Year’s Eve they go to the same party at a friend’s house. Noel kisses a new girl each year as the clock strikes twelve and Mags is continually wondering if that girl will ever be her. I loved, loved, loved this story. Rainbow Rowell quickly shot to the top of my favorite authors list. This short story is just another reason why. I really enjoyed watching their friendship evolve and blossom into something more. By the end of this story, I was completely invested in the characters and had to see a happy ending for the two.

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link – 3.5 Stars
Miranda attends each Christmas at her godmother, Elspeth Honeywell’s house. Only when it snows on Christmas day, she sees a mysterious man named Fennick. The story follows Miranda as she grows up and attends every Honeywell Christmas trying to catch glimpses of Fennick. I’ll be honest, at the beginning of this story I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. This is one where you have to keep going at the beginning. It definitely picks up and gets better. There were points in this story where it felt like it was set in the turn of the century, despite actually being set in modern day. Overall, I enjoyed this one.

Angels in the Snow by Matt De La Peña – 3 Stars
Shy is hired by his boss to cat sit during the Christmas holiday. A huge snowstorm hits New York City and Haley, the cute neighbor who lives in the building, gets snowed in for the holidays. The two develop a friendship after Haley asks to use Shy’s shower since her pipes are frozen. My favorite part of this story is the conversations that Shy and Haley have. They feel very real and the internal dialogue of Shy made me enjoy the story that much more.

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han – 2.5 Stars
This story is about Natalie, or Natty, who is adopted by Santa and lives with him and the elves at the North Pole. The concept for this story felt a bit like an Elf rip-off to me. I expected more from the story since it was by Jenny Han and I was really disappointed with the delivery. The story felt like it was missing a purpose. The worst part was the lack of closure to the ending. The story just sort of stopped and I was left wondering if maybe my copy was missing some pages.

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins – 4.5 Stars
Marigold goes to a Christmas tree lot to ask a boy working there, North, to help her with some voice work for her videos. She winds up buying a tree from North and he brings the tree into her apartment and helps get it set up. This was my second favorite story in the anthology. The spirit of Christmas is really captured in the short story. Plus, a miniature contemporary, swoon-worthy romance takes place. What more could you ask for? I really just enjoyed this story so much.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan – 2.5 Stars
The Jewish boyfriend of Connor dresses up to play Santa Claus for his little sister. This story was okay but was lacking drive. It felt like little more than fluff and didn’t really go anywhere. It actually felt like it could have been cut and pasted out of a larger story. Also, I would have really liked to have known the main character’s name.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black – 2 Stars
Hanna, Wren, and Penny throw a New Year’s Eve party so that they can confront Penny’s boyfriend about dating another girl. They invite Roth and Silke, the other girlfriend, to this party while at a festival to celebrate Krampus. Hanna also impulsively invites a random guy dressed as a Krampus. This story was contrived to me. If a high school guy has two girlfriends, one of his girlfriends and her friends are not going to throw a party and invite him and the other girl to accuse him of cheating. It’s just not realistic at all. Other supernatural phenomena happen at this party, because hey, it’s a Holly Black story. This one just didn’t do it for me.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman – 3 Stars
Sophie Roth decided to move to the middle of the country for college instead of staying close to New York City. She is constantly experiencing some culture shock. But she meets a boy at a campus holiday event and they bond over Ned Flanders and apple pie with cheese. Both of the characters in this story were likable and it was a cute story. I especially enjoyed the list of “what the hell have you done” moments.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire – 4 Stars
Class clown and prankster, Vaughn, accidentally burns down the church’s barn while shooting off firecrackers at some birds. Instead of going to jail, the pastor intervenes and he winds up doing community service work for the church by helping work on the Christmas nativity. During his community service, he works closely with Grace, the pastor’s daughter, and also the girl he has a crush on. This was a funny story where Murphy’s Law seems to be at work. Anything and everything that can go wrong does. I liked that Vaughn uses his prankster “powers” for good instead of evil this time. Even though it was a light-hearted story, it still touched on some deeper issues.

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White – 3.5 Stars
Maria thinks she has everything figured out in her little working town of Christmas, CA. She is eager to leave when a young, new cook starts to work at her mom’s diner and makes magically delicious meals for everyone. There was definitely a little Christmas magic mixed into this story. This was another story that I was unsure of at first but won me over in the end. The growth of Maria over the story is very heartwarming. This story had that human component that gets you right in the feels.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter – 3 Stars
A girl trades plane tickets with an Icelandic girl named Hulda after the airline will not let Hulda change her ticket. She recognizes the other girl’s desperation and need to escape and impulsively swaps with her. When she lands in Oklahoma, Ethan (who had previously already met Hulda) and his family pick up “Hulda” and the girl pretends to be the foreign exchange student. Another cute story in this anthology. I love that Ethan plays along with her charade rather outing her to his family. Ethan’s family are so warm and welcoming and they give true meaning to the word “family”.

The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor – 1.5 Stars
This was my first time reading a story by Laini Taylor. Honestly, it will probably be my last too. I’m not really into fantasy stories. If you are you will almost certainly enjoy this story more than I did. I will say that the world building in this story was impressive, especially for a short story. Overall this story felt out of place in this holiday anthology and I was disappointed that the book had a weak finish.

Have you read My True Love Gave to Me? If so, what did you think?

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories Edited by Stephanie Perkins is available today.