My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins & Others

20309175Novel: My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins | GoodreadsPublisher: St. Martin's PressFormat: HardcoverSource: Publisher

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.

It's Christmastime. I have not gotten much in the Christmas spirit. I've been too overwhelmed. Normally, I'm in the reindeer socks and the antlers and driving down Boulevard Avenue watching the white lights. But this year, I've been a little too ill to actually soak it in and I want to, particularly because it's my last one in Tampa for a while.So I turn to books. I always turn to books. To change my mood or enhance it. In any case, this is the one that put me in the holiday spirit after my three-day stint coughing up my lungs, which really put a damper on things.Admittedly, I'm not really big on short stories. It really depends on my mood, and I don't know enough about them to be able to pick out writers that I will for sure like. So I mainly avoid them. I would love to read Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke, but I'm too afraid that I won't like the cutoffs.I was really surprised by this one. I'd been expecting something much...fluffier. Cute, mostly based on surface attractions. What I found, however, were meaningful connections between characters who each brought some depth to the table and still managed to fit in with the holidays. They're all distinct in voice, but have a primary balance that links them all together. They're all slightly funny, with memorable characters, and a poignant atmosphere that reigns in all the best parts of the Christmas season. They're the types of stories you think about when you're looking at white lights and it's really dark and quiet outside and you're listening to holiday music on the radio. Not to alarm anyone, though: they're also very sweet, although some can be darker.The first story (a pleasant Rainbow Rowell pick called Midnights) nearly brought me to tears. Instead of focusing on the time leading up to Christmas, she focused on New Years, circling two characters year-after-year into the same moment as the ball dropped. The expanded history of those two, rooted in strong traditions and little details, created a whole world of possibility that made me sad when I turned the final page.It wasn't just Rainbow. Every story seemed to do the same to me, and affected me in a different way. The settings change - from little houses to big-city apartments to even the North Pole. The ages change, in a breadth that reminds me that YA isn't just for seventeen-year-olds. Some were fantasy; some were contemporary. Each of them appealed to one of my tastes, which was strange for me. I thought I'd at least dislike one of them. They build on each other too. Each one chips in a small bit of the mood.I ended up reading this book one-at-a-time. I didn't want to lose that Christmas feeling, when it's been so fleeting this year. So whenever I needed to get into the spirit, I'd read a story and it'd make me put it down with my heart a little fuller.The Lady and the Fox (Kelly Link) was ethereal and gorgeous for me - it capitalized on longing and tradition in a strange way that worked for me. Angels in the Snow (Matt de la Pena) was simpler and appealing, plunged right into a teen guy's head at Christmas. This one was more about the build-up than anything else, which was a thoughtful way to spin it. Polaris is Where You'll Find Me (Jenny Han) had not only a vivid plotline but a circular ending that had me hooked. Stephanie Perkins created a precious read It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlier Brown which actually made me swoon.Your Temporary Santa was David Levithan's contribution, so I automatically adored it. It could have been a little better, but David is the King. Krampuslauf was Holly Black, through and through. What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? was a little different from Gayle Forman's usual work, which made it interesting for me. Her banter was absolutely divine. Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire painted some interesting religious commentary in an enjoyable story - and she's hilarious. Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White was just phenomenal. WOW. Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter was brilliant - nicely packaged as usual. To round it all out, Laini Taylor wrote an absolutely magical piece in her stunning language - The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer.I could really feel each author's voice ringing through their work, so it served as a nice sampler for onces that I loved and ones I've been interested in trying.It's difficult to review an anthology. Luckily, I wholeheartedly LOVED all of it, so I can honestly say that it's one I'll be rereading every year to get in the Christmas spirit. There were some stories that were weaker than others, but that varies from reader to reader. In any case, I would probably read this book at other points during the year too, but I'm just that kind of person. I'll probably thumb through it on Christmas Eve when I want to relax before bed and soak in the season.I highly recommend it. 

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