My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories – Stephanie Perkins (Editor)
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.
Review: This isn’t the usual type of book I read. It’s an anthology of holiday-themed love stories. Seeing the words “holiday” and “love” in a book description is a quick way to make me run the other direction.
Even though this isn’t my kind of book, I couldn’t resist it because it’s a YA anthology. Those are pretty rare, and they’re a great way to discover new authors. I was willing to look past my fear of sappy love stories this time. I’m glad I did. My True Love Gave To Me helped me add a few more novelists to my To-Be-Read List.
The best part of the anthology is its diversity. The characters come from different cultural backgrounds, and you get to see a wide variety of winter traditions. Everything from Solstice to Christmas to Krampus is represented in this book.
Despite the diversity, most of the stories are forgettable. I finished the book a few days ago, and it’s difficult for me to remember what most of the stories are about. None of them do anything unusual. They’re entertaining, but they don’t push boundaries. I prefer short stories that are more experimental.
I also think the romantic plots are forced in some of the stories. It’s like the authors knew that the characters had to meet on page 5 and kiss by page 30. I guess I prefer slow-burn romances because it didn’t always feel natural for a whole relationship to be crammed into 30 pages.
Out of the twelve stories in this anthology, these are the ones that stuck in my mind:
In Matt de la Peña’s “Angels in the Snow” a lonely cat sitter forms an unlikely bond with the woman who lives upstairs. This story is sad and funny and shows how holidays can bring different people together.
“I guess I don't really know what I want to do, either. Sometimes I feel like a shook-up bottle of soda. Like, I have all this passion that wants to explode, but I don't know where to aim it yet.” – My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
“Your Temporary Santa” by David Levithan is about a Jewish boy who dresses up as Santa to surprise his boyfriend’s little sister. Unfortunately for the character, breaking into a house full of people on Christmas Eve night can have some unforeseen consequences.
“He says presents aren't important, but I think they are—not because of how much they cost, but for the opportunity they provide to say ‘I understand you.’” – My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
If you love food as much as I do, then you’ll appreciate Kiersten White’s “Welcome to Christmas, CA.” It’s a magical realism story about a diner cook who always knows which type of holiday food will make the customers happy. Just reading about the food made me happy.
“But people don't need to remember how it felt to be happy and safe in the past. They need to have hope that they can get there again in the future.” – My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
In “Star of Bethlehem” by Ally Carter, a girl impulsively trades plane tickets with a stranger in an airport. She ends up in rural Oklahoma with a family she’s never met. The reader spends the story wondering who this girl is and what she’s running from. The answer totally surprised me.
“I sang because that is what I do when I am happy and when I'm sad. I sang because it is who I am when I am being the best possible version of me.” – My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
This isn’t the strongest anthology I’ve ever read, but if you want to sit by the fireplace with some festive holiday entertainment, I’d recommend this book. Most of the stories are sweet, funny, romantic, and uplifting. I’m looking forward to reading novels by the authors in this book.