If you’re looking for a cute book to get you into the holiday spirit—or maybe just to entertain yourself at the third or fourth or even fifth holiday party—this YA short story collection just might be the right book. My True Love Gave to Me includes twelve short stories by popular YA authors, such as Laini Taylor, Rainbow Rowell, Holly Black, David Levithan, etc. Each story is centered around a winter holiday—anything from Christmas to Yuletide to New Year’s—and includes romance in some way.
My True Love Gave to Me has been on my TBR list for a while. Every time I remember it existed, it was the middle of summer, not Christmas time, not December, not even during winter. So I kept putting it off until this year I finally remembered to read it in December. Around Christmas. I think I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected.
As most short story collections go, My True Love Gave to Me has its ups and downs. There were some stories I loved, some stories I just wanted to roll my eyes at, and some stories I just didn’t understand. But I was pleasantly surprised—because this is YA contemporary romance we’re talking about here—to find that, overall, the collection was good. There was diversity, a focus on different winter holidays, and a lot of excellent writing. I think there’s a reason these authors were chosen for this collection, and it definitely pulls through with each story.
Here are a few quick thoughts on each individual story:
“Midnights” by Rainbow Rowell: This story was okay. I wish I could see these characters in a different setting to truly understand their relationship, but I appreciate how she centered the story around a specific date over the span of a few years. While I think Mags deserves someone better than Noel (someone who isn’t willing to kiss anybody who looks his way), the ending was cute.
“The Lady and the Fox” by Kelly Link: This author is one I am the most unfamiliar with. That being said, the story was a bit odd and I wasn’t sure I would like it. There was too much weird kissing and unnecessary time jumps. I like how it ended though, and I think her attention to detail was amazing.
“Angels in the Snow” by Matt de la Peña: I’ve never read a book by Matt de la Peña, and I’m not sure this story convinced me to pick up any of his books. This one had a lot of language, and overall, I just couldn’t connect to the characters. I do appreciate his portrayal of diverse characters, though.
“Polaris Is Where You Find Me” by Jenny Han: This story was cute, but I wanted more from it. It was a bit too short for me to truly connect with the characters or the world-building presented. It was also a bit too predictable.
“It’s a Yuletide Christmas, Charlie Brown” by Stephanie Perkins: This one was adorable and might have been my absolute favorite except the characters fell into insta-love and ended up in a steamy kissing scene after only knowing each other for a few hours. The perfect example of why I don’t always like YA contemporary romances.
“Your Temporary Santa” by David Leviathan: Eh. I am not the intended audience for this one, I can tell.
“What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?” by Gayle Forman: This story was hilarious. I really enjoyed the characters and their banter and just how the story unfolded. It was sweet but also funny.
“Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus” by Myra McEntire: I think this story is my favorite of the collection. It was unexpected, hilarious, and all kinds of adorable. Plus, it includes a good representation of Christians, church, and the true Christmas story without being lame, cheesy, or preachy. All around, this story is excellent.
“Welcome to Christmas” by Kiersten White: While I enjoyed this one and I liked how the story turned around, I felt that some parts of it fell into place a little too fast for the build-up. The rest of it, however, was wonderful and heartwarming. It’s how Christmas should always feel.
“Star of Bethlehem” by Ally Carter: I’m still divided about whether I enjoyed this or not. It was interesting, but I wish it was longer. Honestly, the plot of this short story would make an excellent teen Hallmark movie, if such a thing existed.
“The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor: I think this is the first Laini Taylor story I didn’t enjoy. It was all types of weird and beautiful, but I just couldn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t know if this was a made up world (as Taylor usually writes fantasy) or if it was supposed to be set in a place where people actually do these rituals. And I was confused during most of it as to what was happening. But the language was beautiful, as always.
I didn’t enjoy every story, but I imagine readers who love the specific authors would enjoy their individual story. My True Love Gave to Me is a fun, light read to get you into the holiday spirit.