Review: My True Love Gave To Me

Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: young adult romance short stories
(mostly contemp, but some magical realism & fantasy)
Format/Source: eARC, from the publisher
HC & audio, purchased from B&N and Audible respectively
Status: short story anthology, standalone
one story has a sequel in Summer Days & Summer Nights

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.

This review is only about 4 years late, but whatever. My True Love Gave to Me is probably the most notable holiday works in YA not just because there's only about ten holiday YA books in existence, but also because it's a star-studded anthology that contains twelve really beautiful stories. To me, this is a timeless holiday classic that I cherish annually, both as a physical book and as one of the most exquisite audiobooks I own.

This book is so magical and snowy and holiday-ish and lovely, you guys. It has a variety of stories with something for everything. You've got New Year's Eve, Christmas, Hanukkah, Krampus, and advent. There's romance, obviously, but these stories are also about family, friendship, and faith. There's kissing and hot chocolate and tree shopping and makeshift latkes and ugly sweaters and pop stars and parties and fake Santas and magic!

I mean, some of the stories  ("The Lady and the Fox", "Polaris is Where You'll Find Me", "Krampuslauf", "Welcome to Christmas, CA", and "The Girls Who Woke the Dreamer") contain literal magic, but there's also just magic in the feeling of the stories. In snowflakes and first kisses, party dresses and perfect gifts, holiday mayhem like mistaken identities and missing pets and holiday miracles like finding enough emergency candles for a menorah or using performers from a Southern interactive dinner show as stand-ins for a Christmas pageant.

I am absolutely in awe of the lineup Stephanie curated. These are some old-school kings and queens of YA for sure. And each story is brimming with the hope and renewal everyone wishes for during the holiday season. I absolutely recommend buying this book and reading it not just during the holidays but anytime you need a little hope, a little magic, a little wonder in your life. The only thing that would make me happier than this book is for it to be an annual or bi-annual anthology with holiday stories from many different and inclusive groups of authors!

A note about the audio:
The MTLGTM audiobook is truly one of the best I've ever had the pleasure to listen to. Each author was able to select their own narrator for their story, and the result is absolutely delightful! I wasn't sold on all the stories the first time I read them, but upon hearing them performed by some of the most talented narrators currently working, I came to appreciate those tales more. Specifically, "Lady and the Fox" and "Kraumpuslauf" have become two unexpected favorites just because their narrators literally gave new voice to the characters and elevated the stories past my initial impression. This is one of my absolute favorite audiobooks, and I give it my highest stamp of approval!

Story Descriptions:
"Midnights" by Rainbow Rowell
Maggie and her friends return from their first semester of college for their annual NYE party. Flashes back to previous years of the party, including the one where Maggie met Noel.

"The Lady and the Fox" by Kelly Link
Miranda visits her godmother each year for the holidays. Some years, she meets a strange boy-man in a special coat who is under "The Lady's" spell.

"Angels in the Snow" by Matt de la Peña
Shy is cat-sitting for his boss, but there's no food in the apartment, and the city has shut down for a blizzard. Enter Haley, the girl upstairs who missed her flight home for the holidays.

"Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me" by Jenny Han
In a twist on Elf, Natalie is Santa's adopted daughter. The North Pole is the only home she's ever known, but she feels out of place among the elves, especially during the annual Snow Ball.

"It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown" by Stephanie Perkins
Marigold has a favor to ask the boy at the Christmas tree lot while North wants out of the family business.

"Your Temporary Santa" by David Levithan
Connor convinces his boyfriend to play Santa for his youngest sister, but the narrator (he's unnamed) has converstations with all three siblings throughout the night.

"Krampuslauf" by Holly Black
Hannah and her friends host a fancy New Year's Eve party to get back at Penny's two-timing prep school boyfriend when three magical visitors arrive to help.

"What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?" by Gayle Forman
"Big city" New Yorker Sophie feels out of place at her rural university when she meets Russel at a Christmas carol concert.

"Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus" by Myra McEntire
Class troublemaker Vaughn has to save the church Christmas pageant (which he almost ruined weeks before with a few errant fireworks) when a perfect storm of mishaps threaten to cancel the show.

"Welcome to Christmas, CA" by Kiersten White
Maria plans to leave Christmas (her hometown) in the rearview mirror as soon as she graduates, but new diner chef Ben helps her see her family and her home in a new light.

"Star of Bethlehem" by Ally Carter
After Lydia spontaneously swaps tickets with a girl in the airport, she has to pretend to be Ethan's Icelandic girlfriend visiting Oklahoma for the first time. But all is not as it appears in this Prince & the Pauper-esque tale.

"The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer" by Laini Taylor
Neve, the island's lone orphan, wishes to find a better life for herself once she comes of age AND rebuff the romantic advances of the cruel widower preacher.

Purchase Links:

About the Author:
Stephanie Perkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss. She has always worked with books—first as a bookseller, then as a librarian, and now as a novelist. Stephanie lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband. Every room of their house is painted a different color of the rainbow.

Author Links:

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  1. My favorite trope is best friends to more. I also enjoy enemies to lovers.

  2. Enemies to lovers is one. Thank you

  3. Just about any trope works in the hands of a great author! I'll go with friends to lovers...

  4. Enemies to lovers is my favorite!

  5. Ooooh, I love how you shared the animated cover! And I totally agree with you—this book is one to revisit every December. I've loved both of the anthologies that Stephanie Perkins edited, so I hope she does more in the future.

    My favorite romance trope is enemies to lovers!

  6. I love the cover--and the cover .gif! I like the sound of the holiday magic for all the different holidays!

  7. I love holiday classics.Great review.