Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Synopsis: On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.
Review: Anthologies are notoriously hard to write reviews for. Do you talk about the book on a whole? Do you do break down of each story? Well, I have decided to do a little of both… I want you to get a feel for the book, but also for each story it contains.
MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME, The Book:
MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME is definitely my favourite anthology. I will admit, that I have never read a multi-author anthology in its entirety. I generally read the stories I am really interested in, and leave the others for a later time (which always slips away). But I was ridiculously excited for this one… just look at the authors it includes: Stephanie Perkins, Laini Taylor, Kiersten White, Rainbow Rowell, Holly Black, David Lethithan, Ally Carter, Jenny Han, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Matt de la Pena. What a line up! I had previously not read all of these authors, but those that I have are amongst my favourites, so I was willing to bet that I would “meet” some wonderful new authors here as well – and I did!
The stories within MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME all share two common themes – love and holidays. But other than that, each story completely and utterly stands as a great story, with great writing, in its own right.
Each story within this anthology is a whole new world, and I was excited to go from one to the next. For me it was like opening presents on Christmas morning, you never knew what you would open next. Some stories are contemporary, some are paranormal, some are clear and concise, some are poetic and poignant, some have humour, some have heart-break, some have swearing, some have sarcasm, some have fear, some have hot kissing scenes. MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME is like a lucky-dip, where every prize is fantastic!
I especially loved the diversity of stories within this anthology. There is a lot of religious, sexual-orientation, cultural and racial variation between the stories, and I loved the openness of this. I think that in general (this is a big generalisation) there is limited racial, religious and sexual-orientation diversity in the YA market – and this anthology shows that with openness, honesty and class, these often avoided topics can be written wonderfully.
MIDNIGHTS by Rainbow Rowell
Over many midnights, we meet Mags and Noel. Friends, always there for each other, but never going anywhere. Sometimes never going anywhere doesn’t mean you don’t leave, and going somewhere doesn’t mean you ever left.
Quote: “I never go anywhere!”
THE LADY AND THE FOX by Kelly Link
Miranda spends her holidays with her god-mother Elspeth Honeywell and her son Daniel. It is here that she meets a mysterious man named Fenny, a man who is as much on the outer as she is. As the years go by, her feelings for Fenny start to expand as does Daniels feelings for Miranda. Will Miranda reject Daniel, and the only security she has ever had, and risk it all for the mysterious Fenny?
Quote: “We all lose”
ANGELS IN THE SNOW by Matt de la Peña
Shy is in a new city, broke and starving. But he is also proud. Then he meets Haley, the girl who changes more than his lonely holiday. Angels in the Snow is about broken showers and get-to-know-you games, home sickness and finding courage… and one very smart cat!
Quote: “Eating and crying. Crying and eating”
POLARIS IS WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME by Jenny Han
Natty, has a magical life. Being Santa’s daughter is delightful, but also tough. Whether she is naughty or nice, the one thing on Natty’s Christmas wishlist is the one thing that Santa cannot give to her. An elf, Flynn, made of believing and wanting or a human boy made of the real world and possibilities. What is it she really wishes for?
Quote: “Living where I live, it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between magic and make believe”
IT’S A YULETIDE MIRACLE, CHARLIE BROWN by Stephanie Perkins
North, a boy with a great voice and lots of trees, and Marigold, a girl who needs a voice. Upon her journey to get a voice, Marigold finds that a solstice tree and some human tetris superpower may be just what she needs to move forward and find her own voice.
Quote: “Then what’s with all the hoarding, hoarder?”
YOUR TEMPORARY SANTA by David Levithan
Connor needs a Santa to help retain his sister’s beliefs for just one more year. So temporary Santa helps out, but during the process temporary Santa finds that he can be both intruding, and at home, at the same time.
Quote: “It’s hard not to feel just a little bit fat when your boyfriend asks you to be Santa Claus”
KRUMPUSLAUF by Holly Black
Hanna once made a bargain with the universe. Then she made up the perfect boyfriend, Joachim. And then she continued on with her mundane life. But when her perfect party is ruined, magic happens.
Quote: “It was full of overpriced boutiques, overpriced coffee, and Mossley Academy, which was full of overpriced assholes”
WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE, SOPHIE ROTH? by Gayle Forman
Sophie realises she doesn’t fit in, her sarcasm, her financial situation, her religion, her big-cityness. But mating sweaters and reindeers and Russell make her realise that sometimes an imperfect fit can be the perfect fit.
Quote: “Not everyone had their lives figured out by the time they exited the womb”
BEER BUCKETS AND BABY JESUS by Myra McEntire
Vaughn is more than a little mischievous, but he finds that with a little help from a forgiving pastor, and his daughter Gracie, that you can find a way to take it exactly far enough.
Quote: “Put this on your list of things to know: the combination of tinsel, baby angel wings, and manger hay burns like weed at a Miley Cyrus concert”
WELCOME TO CHRISTMAS, CA by Kiersten White
Maria cannot wait to get out of Christmas – the dead-end town she is living in. The town is filled with miserable people, she works in a payless job at a diner, she feels disconnected from her mother and she doesn’t get along with her mother’s stingy boyfriend. Then Ben arrives in town, with his joy and cooking, his cuteness and the ability to bring happiness to those around him. Can he show Maria that with a little love and magic, Christmas can feel like home?
Quote: “There… was no sarcasm in that statement. I’m confused”
STAR OF BETHLEHEM by Ally Carter
A chance encounter at an airport results in Lydia finding herself in the middle of nowhere. But when you are running, the middle of nowhere is a good place to be. As Ethan and his family show her kindness, Lydia finds that she may want to stop running. But what happens when you can’t outrun your past?
Quote: “If you just want to go away then any ticket will get you there”
THE GIRL WHO WOKE THE DREAMER by Laini Taylor
Neve wakes on the first day of Advent to find that she is the object of someone’s desire – but she has no desire to be someone’s sweetheart – especially that of this particular person. Desperate, she prays to the forbidden Wisha.
In doing so, something has changed, she has woken the Dreamer. Neve soon finds that she feels the Dreamer’s presence all around her, but can he help her escape her inevitable future at the clutches of the man who wants to marry her.
And, could she love the Dreamer when she sees what he really is?
Quote: “If I spend all my disappointment before breakfast, what will I go on for the rest of the day?”