I can’t imagine liking young adult books and not being excited about My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins. This is not just because the book contains everything really good YA has- diversity, genuine and relatable emotions, snappy dialogue, and lots of swoon-worthy kissing. Mostly I just can’t imagine that anyone who reads young adult books doesn’t have at least one favorite author among the writers Perkins gathered together to create these twelve holiday stories. For me those favorites were Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan, Jenny Han, and Stephanie Perkins herself. But after reading all of these stories at least twice, and several of them several more times than that, I have lots of new-to-me YA authors I can’t wait to read more from. Seriously, what’s most shocking about this collection is that there are no weak link stories in the book. Each one is fun and thought provoking in its own way. Reading the stories for the first time one after another on the subway made my subway rides this winter the most fun they’ve been since I moved to New York.
Each story revolves around the winter holiday season, but they aren’t all about Christmas. There is a Winter Solstice story (perfect for today!), a New Years story featuring a krampus, and two stories with Jewish protagonist’s intersection with trappings of traditional Christmas pastimes. Many of the stories are contemporary, while other have elements of magical realism (Jenny Han’s story features the Korean adopted daughter of Santa Clause having a hard time fitting in with the elves) or are straight up fantasy like Laini Taylor’s.
I keep changing my mind about which of the stories is my favorite. The one that has stayed with me the most is probably Matt de la Pena’s unbelievably beautiful story about a new college student who is housesitting over the holidays in a fancy Brooklyn apartment building without enough money to go home for Christmas or buy food, but is too embarrassed to accept help from the neighbor girl. The story I’ve reread the most is Rainbow Rowell’s which has just as much oh-so-amazing-romanticness as you would expect from a Rainbow Rowell story.
I could literally keep going and going and going about each of the stories and how much I liked them all. There are stories set in Bethlehem, Oklahoma and Christmas, CA, a story about a surprising advent courtship ritual, one with a saved nativity pageant, a case of a hidden identity, and a great story about two outsiders in a small town college who challenge each other’s assumptions.
I don’t want to say much more, because I don’t want to spoil any of these stories for you. If you’re looking for a more in depth read on the stories Stefani from Caught Read Handed has been reviewing a different story from the collection every day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. As with most of the books I review, I couldn’t recommend this book more. If you end up needing a last minute gift it would make a lovely holiday present … much better than two turtle doves or a partridge in a pear tree.