Published by St. Martin’s Griffin in 2014.
My True Love Gave to Me is a collection of twelve holiday-themed short stories by twelve popular authors: Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de la Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, and Kiersten White.
Most of the stories included in this collection are fluffy, cuddly love stories. For that reason, this book is probably best digested in small doses (unless you’re really into happily-ever-afters). Very briefly, here are my thoughts on each story:
“Midnights” by Rainbow Rowell
This is a very cute story with a relatively simple concept. Each scene in “Midnights” takes place during those precious seconds leading up to midnight on New Year’s Eve. While the plot may be somewhat predictable, Rowell’s writing really brings the characters to life.
“The Lady and the Fox” by Kelly Link
This was one of my favorite stories from this collection, which is ironic because I really disliked Link’s collection of short stories, Magic for Beginners. I couldn’t even finish it, but “The Lady and the Fox” was really interesting, sweet, and had the right amount of holiday magic to it. I’d love to read a full novel about the characters in the story.
“Angels in the Snow” by Matt de la Peña
This story was not what I expected it to be. It had a very sweet ending, but ultimately wasn’t one of my favorites.
“Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me” by Jenny Han
Set in the North Pole on the night of Santa’s Elves’ annual ball, “Polaris” is a story of unrequited love, but it’s also about the need to belong. This story reminded me of Elf, but also of Harry Potter, with Santa’s elves very reminiscent of the Veela. Side note: I always think I’m going to enjoy stories with elves more than I ever really do.
“It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown” by Stephanie Perkins
I really loved this story about two teenagers who meet at a Christmas Tree lot. It was very well-written and definitely a feel-good story. I particularly enjoyed the banter between the two main characters.
“Your Temporary Santa” by David Levithan
This was my least favorite story in the collection, though I can’t pinpoint why. I think I’m just not a very big fan of Levithan’s writing. A lot of what happened in the story didn’t make sense to me.
“Krampuslauf” by Holly Black
Holly Black is really great about writing about aspects of teen culture that I feel are really glossed over in a lot of YA fantasy books I’ve read. I enjoyed Tithe, though haven’t been able to get in to the sequel, Valiant, yet. This one was unusual, and happily was not about teenagers falling in love (which, at this point, I was a little tired of reading). “Krampuslauf” was a nice break and had some really unique aspects to it. Like Link’s earlier story, I wish this one were a full novel.
“What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?” by Gayle Forman
I’ll admit I had trouble remembering what this story was about. It was okay, but there wasn’t anything remarkable about it.
“Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus” by Myra McEntire
“Beer Buckets” was one of my least favorite stories. I just couldn’t connect to any of the characters, and kept finding myself skipping around and counting how many pages until it was over.
“Welcome to Christmas, CA” by Kiersten White
I really enjoyed this one. I thought it was going to be about meeting The One, but it was more about family, and taking the time to pay attention to and care for the people around you.
“Star of Bethlehem” by Ally Carter
Like “Sophie Roth”, I couldn’t remember what this one was about and had to reread a page to refresh my memory. Turns out, this was the one about a girl who swaps places with an Icelandic girl and flies off to middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma while trying to escape her past. Out of all the stories in this book, I found this one to be the most unbelievable of them all, yet it featured no elves, Krampuses or other mythical beings.
“The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor
Oh, how I wish this was a full-length novel! “The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer” is full of beautiful imagery, world-building, and mythology. It was a little bit dark, but just so magnificent. I’d love to read more set in this universe. I could probably read about it forever.
Overall, if you don’t have the time or inclination to read all the stories in this collection, I would recommend “The Lady and the Fox”, “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown”, “Krampuslauf”, “Welcome to Christmas, CA” and “The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer”.
My True Love Gave to Me was like reading the best, fluffiest fanfiction. It will make you feel somewhat better about the world. I’d wait until it’s around the holiday season before picking this one up, though.
Finally I read recently that there will be a second collection of similar stories released next summer, and I’ll be looking forward to it.