Tuesday, December 1, 2015

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Stephanie Perkins (Editor), A Review

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Book Description

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.


I borrowed this book from my library in 2014.   I read two stories at a time, intending to read along with Christina Marie on youTube, but I got behind and had to catch up after Christmas.  This is my honest review written at the end of 2014*.  This post has been scheduled since January!
*Some data may change, i.e. I am sure that I will read works by some of these authors in 2015.

This book reminded me how enjoyable short stories could be!  I've only read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins going into this anthology.  It was a great introduction to the works of such well-known young adult authors.  Perkins forward was cute and bubbly and the perfect opener.   

I'll have an overall rating at the end of my post but I thought I'd rate each story individually as well.

The book opens with "Midnights" by Rainbow Rowell.  I've never read any of Rowell's work* but this story makes me want to.  I especially liked the way Rowell told a story that spanned time by focusing on one part of a recurring event.  I loved the characters and finished this story thinking that it would be hard to displace as my favorite.  It was this story that reminded me why I enjoyed our discussions of short stories in college so much.  Rowell did a stellar job with character development and their growth in a very concise format.    

Kelly Link's "The Lady and the Fox" was another great story and reminder of how powerful short stories can be.  It had a bit of fantasy to it and a lot of symbolism.  Link also told her story through a series of snapshots across time. ★ Because I thought the writing and the story were great - not because I agree with who the heroine ended up with. 

"Angels in the Snow" by Matt de la Pena was such a sweet story.  I liked that it was told from a male perspective and oh, my heart felt him being stuck alone for Christmas.  And then being so happy that there was a sweet, tender girl to reach out to him.  I also really liked that these young adults acted and thought and spoke like I think normal young adults act and think and speak.  

Jenny Han's "Polaris is Where You'll Find Me" was the first story that left me feeling meh.  It felt super cutesy (it is set at the North Pole and features elves and Santa) and trite to me.  I haven't read any of Han's work either but I have seen so much praise for her books -perhaps I expected more.  Or maybe I'm just old enough to not get it.  

Stephanie Perkins' contribution, "It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown" was phenomenal.  The heroine is real and gritty; I just thought Perkins did a great job of showing how much bad stuff has happened in her life in a concise way that gave her such depth. It was a little hard to swallow the "love at first sight" in the story....well, the level that they get to anyway in such a short amount of time.  And the hero was such a great example of selflessness to his family and to the heroine.  

David Levithan's "Your Temporary Santa" was another meh story for me.  I really liked the premise and the stream of consciousness from the main character.  I spent so much time though trying to figure out if the main character was male that it really bothered me.  I wish it had been more clear that it was a homosexual couple - then I could have actually focused on the story and the characters and all. And I found it completely unbelievable that (1) he was able to sneak in without an adult knowing and (2) that his boyfriend was asleep.  I wouldn't be able to sleep if I knew that my love interest was going to be sneaking into my house--- I'd be anticipating it.   

Krampuslauf by Holly Black was another okay story for me.  I didn't think it was great but I liked it a little more than the story just before. I thought the characters were shallow.  I've never been a "partier" so I just wasn't able to connect to anyone in the story.  

I read the If I Stay dualogy by Gayle Forman this spring so I was expecting a great piece of work in her story "What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?"  Forman did an excellent job exploring those moments when you realize that you have made the wrong assumptions of people or moments.  I really appreciated the way that Forman built an interracial relationship in a genuine, sweet way.  There were moments that could've been cheesy but she wrote them and they were instead simple and kind.  And of course, Forman has amazing insight into the minds of young adults and culture.  This story was so much more than just a love story.  

I also really enjoyed Myra McEntire's "Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus".  First, it had some Christian elements running through it; not in your face but it revolves around putting on a Nativity Play.  I liked how the pastor reached out and stood up for a kid that is considered an outcast/troublemaker in the town.  I thought it was a great picture of how we as Christians should be loving and gracious and accepting and including (I don't think that is a real word but do you know what I mean?) to those around us.  I thought there was a lot of humor in this story and enjoyed the character growth that the hero goes through in such a short amount of time.  

"Welcome to Christmas, CA" by Kiersten White was a surprise for me.  At the beginning,  I wasn't enjoying the story but I admired her helping out people and when Ben showed up, it took a turn in a positive direction.  The best part was the way the heroine's relationship with her mom and her mom's boyfriend went from strained to her realization of the way they had shown their love for her and her acknowledgment and appreciation for that.  

"Star of Bethlehem" by Ally Carter was ridiculous.  I just can't even....this story was fantasy. Not good, other world fantasy but "this would never happen" fantasy.  

The final story is "The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer" by Laini Taylor.  I can't even remember the last story.  I already returned my copy to the library so I'm not able to reference back to it at all.  

After I finished reading the last story, I was looking at the cover and thinking how I liked the British cover so much more.  Then I realized that there were twelve couples featured on the cover and I thought "that's a nice touch...the artist did a good job on that little detail".  Then I started really looking at each pair and I realized that it was each couple from the stories.  Very cool and I loved going through and matching each story up with their little couple icon.  I love when stuff like that happens on book covers, do you? 

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

My overall rating is three stars because each story was either one I really liked (or loved) or really didn't like.  The standout stories definitely make this a book to pick up and I could see myself coming back and reading the stories I enjoyed over again.  

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