Since today is December first, I thought it would be fitting to review a holiday-themed book! My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories is a recently-published anthology containing twelve stories from popular YA authors, and each story revolves around a wintery romance.
Which isn’t normally my thing, right? But HOLIDAYS. Also, short stories. One of my problems with a lot of love stories is that they go on and on and on. And I get bored! But that wasn’t a problem here, because the stories were only about twenty pages at most. Perfect!
I don’t often review anthologies, but when I’ve done so in the past I reviewed and rated each story separately, then discussed the collection as a whole at the end of my post. So that’s what I’m going to do here as well. Enjoy!
This review is spoiler-free!
“Midnights” by Rainbow Rowell (3/5)
This was cute, and I liked the flashbacks to New Year’s Eves of the past, but ultimately this story just didn’t stand out that much to me. (Which is odd, because normally I enjoy her writing.) Don’t TELL me that a couple is in love, Ms. Rowell, SHOW me. Because I didn’t see any romantic chemistry between Mags and Noel at all.
“The Lady and the Fox” by Kelly Link (5/5)
What do all the teenagers say these days? Do they say, “I can’t even”? Well, then, I can’t even with this story. This was a BEAUTIFUL story, a wonderful mix of happenings both past and present, and my only quibble with it is that it wasn’t longer!
“Angels in the Snow” by Matt de la Peña (4.5/5)
SO. MUCH. CUTENESS! I really related to this story because, honestly, its protagonist is just like me. Every time he said/did an awkward thing in front of the cute neighbor girl, I was like, “HE JUST DID AN ENGIE THING.”
“Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me” by Jenny Han (4/5)
Can I just say that I’m really jealous of Natalie, this story’s protagonist? She lives at the North Pole! And she’s Santa’s adopted daughter. (Also, I love how Santa’s adopted daughter is from South Korea. “Santa Claus is Asian?” “He’s not my biological dad.”)
“It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown” by Stephanie Perkins (4/5)
I need to befriend North, the love interest in this story, like right now. He’s really sweet and helpful and wow… he’s a great guy.
“Your Temporary Santa” by David Levithan (2/5)
What can I say? I’m not really a fan of this writer; every Levithan book I’ve read thus far (four or five or so by now) has been either underwhelming or astoundingly… average. I appreciate the diversity in this story – a gay, Jewish protagonist and his boyfriend – but otherwise, it’s rather meh.
If there could’ve been only one LGBTQ+ author/story in this collection, I would have preferred someone whose work is more polished. (Malinda Lo immediately springs to mind.)
“Krampuslauf” by Holly Black (3/5)
Conclusion: HOLLY BLACK LIKES CREEPY THINGS. This was cool, and featured an awesome party, and I really can’t say any more about it without giving away the plot twist. So! You should read it.
“What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?” by Gayle Forman (3.5/5)
Now this was cute. I loved Sophie and Russell, the geeky couple at the heart of this story, even though they did suffer from a strong case of Insta-Love. (One of my YA pet peeves.) Oh, well. “What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?” really reminded me of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, so I think if you enjoyed that novel you’ll probably like this short story as well.
“Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus” by Myra McEntire (2/5)
This was actually kind of painful to read and now I feel sad that I can’t get those ten minutes of my life back. I don’t really feel like talking about it much, but I feel that I owe you at leats a short summary: It’s about a troublemaking boy, a pastor’s daughter, and the Christmas pageant that they’re both acting in.
“Welcome to Christmas, CA” by Kiersten White (3.5/5)
THIS IS A STORY ABOUT FOOD. Yay for food! Yay for cute people who make you yummy food! The romance in this story was very sweet, and the family relationships were very sweet too.
“Star of Bethlehem” by Ally Carter (3.5/5)
Well, this was just… bizarre. In this story, a girl runs away from home and switches places with an Icelandic exchange student, trying to fool her host family into believing she’s the real thing. Fun, but not outstanding.
“The Girl who Woke the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor (4/5)
I really need to try Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone series now, don’t I? This was beautifully written, a perfect mixture of seriousness and humor, and the only high fantasy story in this collection. It was the perfect ending for My True Love Gave to Me.
Time for some wrap-up questions!
Did this book put me in the holiday spirit? Yes, definitely! I wasn’t a fan of all the stories, but most of them were very festive and cute.
Diversity rating? Pretty good. I was REALLY surprised by how many characters from the twelve stories were not white, because… I’m not used to that. I’m used to someone putting, like, one single black or Latino character or whatever in their story and calling that diversity.
On a different note, two-and-a-half-ish characters were queer. (I think a character from “The Lady and the Fox” was bi, but I’m not sure so that’s where the “half” part comes from.)
And, finally, I was happy to see that not all of the stories were about Christmas; there were also tales about Hannukah, the winter solstice, and New Year’s Eve/Day. I would’ve liked to see a little more diversity here, though. What about Kwanzaa? Or the Epiphany? I think adding a few other holidays would’ve really made this collection stand out.
Cutest couple? That’s a tough one, but… how about North and Marigold from “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown?” [Flails because cuteness]
Who would I choose to kiss under the mistletoe?
Um, no one, because it’s infested by Nargles. Probably Natalie from “Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me;” she was really adorable and awesome.
Best story? It’s pretty obvious from my fangirling, isn’t it? I LOVED “The Lady and the Fox” by Kelly Link. I’d never even heard of her before, but now I want to read her other books!
I really, really enjoyed My True Love Gave to Me, and honestly? That kind of surprises me. I love love love short stories (and I love writing them, as well), but anthologies can be kind of hit or miss for me because I’m really picky and usually only like about half the stories. And I didn’t like everything from this book, it’s true, but there were only two stories that disappointed me so I’m counting this book as a win.
My True Love Gave to Me is an excellent anthology and would probably make a lovely present, too! Tell me in the comments: Have you read this book? What did you think of it? And because I feel like I didn’t mention food nearly enough in this post… what’s your favorite holiday food? (What’s your favorite winter-holiday-themed book?)