Title: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Winter Romances
Author: Stephanie Perkins + More!
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Fantasy
Released: October 9 2014
Content Warnings: Rape cuture: Sexual harassment. Child Labour.
Representation: POC: Mexican, Korean, Chinese, African American
LGBT+: Queer side characters, Gay main character and love interest.
Poverty. Adoption. Jewish. Fat. Mental Illness. Incarceration.
Synopsis*: 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.
Past Grey Reads
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
You can’t undo loss. You can’t unmake a mistake.
This year I’ve been on a mission to read Christmasy books in December. I’m determined to read at least two.
So I went to the library to pick up a hold and thought why not see what books they have that might put me in the Christmas spirit? That’s when I stumbled upon My True Love Gave to Me.
I love anthologies and this one had a few stories written by authors I already love or was excited to see what they had to offer. I always try to taper my expectations when it comes to anthologies, I enjoy reading them and sometimes I find my favourite stories ever in them but as far as odds go, I’m always guaranteed to not like a couple, and those are always the hardest for me to get through.
Just a forewarning, I struggle with writing reviews for anthologies and fluffy romances at the best of times. My best reviewing is when I’m talking about a book that tackles Big Topics™. And this is an anthology of fluffy romances so I don’t really know how this is going to turn out…
❄️ It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown – Stephanie Perkins
❄️ Krampuslauf – Holly Black
❄️ What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? – Gayle Forman
❄️ Welcome to Christmas, CA – Kiersten White
He says presents aren’t important, but I think they are—not because of how much they cost, but for the opportunity they provide to say I understand you.
│POC and gay side characters.│
Then the music stopped, and the counting started.
And it was good that Mags was out here, because it would hurt too much to be in there. It always hurt too much, and this year, it might kill her.
Midnights brings us the story of two best friends who’s friendship anniversary is on New Year’s Eve, which they celebrate at the same New Years Eve party every year. Noel is always trying to get Margaret to dance with him and Margaret is always wishing Noel would stop kissing every girl that’s closest to him when the ball drops.
This was sweet and funny. Noel and Mags’s banter was really entertaining and I was really shipping them together from page one. I do think this story has a weird placement for the anthology since its set on New Year’s Eve, yet is the first story in the book.
│The Lady and the Fox│Kelly Link│★★★½│
│Parent incarceration│Unnamed gay side characters, Bisexual named side character.│
“Anyway, how about you, Miranda? Do you have one of those, yet? A love life?”
“I don’t even have ferrets,” Miranda says.
Miranda has a permanent invitation at the Honeywell’s Christmas Party since her mother was incarcerated. Each Christmas she sees a Honeywell she doesn’t recognise out in the snow, looking in.
This was weird, but in a good way, I think. To be honest I was really fucking confused for a while but I love the humour with this and it did feel super magical and like anything could happen. Also, I’m a sucker for any story that incorporates foxes. It’s basically my greatest weakness.
This is a beautiful, weird little story, I just wish things weren’t as confusing.
│Angels in the Snow│Matt de la Peña│★★★★│
│Cheating. P-slur│MC is a biracial Mexican. Poverty.│
We both stood there awkwardly for a few seconds. It was like we’d ripped open our chests and revealed our beating hearts. And how do you transition back to small talk after that?
Shy is cat-sitting for his boss over Christmas which would be fine if it wasn’t for the fact that his boss has left basically no food in the apartment, Shy is flat broke, and there’s a snowstorm that has hit New York. But maybe the girl from upstairs whose shower is broken might be able to distract Shy from his hunger. Or maybe she’ll strike up a different hunger in him instead.
This story broke my heart, between Shy having lost his mother and fighting poverty and going hungry, I really empathised with him and like Haley, I just wanted to bring him into my kitchen and feed him until he couldn’t eat anymore. Going hungry is hard, staying hungry out of shame is harder.
│Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me│Jenny Han│★★│
│MC is Korean and adopted.│
“You aren’t the one I’m worried about getting hurt.”
Natalie was found and adopted by Santa Claus when she was just a baby. Now she lives in the North Pole, surrounded by Elves, and she’s crushing on her best friend hard. But Elves only ever date Elves and Natalie has never felt more alone.
This was…boring. And inconsistent. The timeline of things that happened in this story was a bit all over the place which annoyed me and made it hard to enjoy anything. I just didn’t really care about Natalie or anyone else for that matter. I was so disappointed because Jenny Han’s story was one I was looking forward to reading.
│❄️│It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown│Stephanie Perkins│★★★★★│
│Cheating.│Poverty. MC is Chinese. │
Marigold shrugged. “My mom isn’t really into men right now.”
“That’s understandable,” North said. “The last one was pretty bad.”
Marigold just wants a tree for Yuletide this year. She also needs a voice for her next animation and North, the son of the family who runs the tree yard near her apartment building, is the perfect person to provide both.
I really loved this one, I felt for Marigold, her mother and North so much and the whole time I was desperately wanting a happy ending for them. I would love to see this one as a full novel because these characters both have quite in-depth backgrounds and I think being a short story does them a disservice. But this was truly funny and North and Marigold had such good chemistry!
│Your Temporary Santa│David Levithan│★★★│
│MC and LI are both gay. MC is also Jewish and fat. │
Her eyes widen. And in that moment, in that momentary loss of logic to wonder, I see the family resemblance. I see Connor and the way he is never too cool to show that something is special to him.
Our unnamed MC is in love and willing to dress up as Santa to keep his boyfriend’s little sister believing in Santa. Even though he’s Jewish and his boyfriend’s other little sister likes to see him squirm.
I didn’t like this. It was so uncomfortable to read because our main character was uncomfortable the entire time. I liked the meaning behind it, but it was really a struggle to get through even though it was one of the shorter stories. .
│Cheating.│Poverty. One name and one unnamed gay side characters│
For the first time that day, I had a giddy feeling of anticipation. The feeling you were supposed to have when you went to a party. The feeling that as the night went on, reality might grow more malleable, like taffy, until anything could happen and everything might change.
Hanna, Wren and Penny are determined to throw the best New Years Eve party possible in order to get back at Penny’s cheating boyfriend. But things don’t go to plan and magic is in the air. You really should be careful of what you wish for.
I really enjoyed this. It’s the kind of magic that has dark edges which seems to be Holly’s specific brand of storytelling and I am here for it. It was very well written. I just hate when stories take forever to tell you the main characters name especially when there’s not really a reason for it. It’s a cheap gimmick without having any real meaning to it and also I get sick of referring to them as MC in my notes, but maybe that’s more of a personal pet peeve of mine.
│❄️│What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?│Gayle Forman│★★★★★│
│Poverty. MC is Jewish. LI is African American. │
There was so much eye-shining and heart as they pa-rum-pum-pum-pummed about Little Drummer Boys. Plus the sweaters. She couldn’t take it anymore.
“Oh, the Ned Flanders of it all,” she muttered to herself.
Sophie is stuck at college, where she feels completely out of place, for Hanukkah. But then she gets the attention of Russell and Sophie thinks she’s finally found someone she can connect with, who gets her and her Flanders jokes.
This was really sweet and I loved Sophie’s and Russell’s dynamic and their chemistry was believable from the beginning. I loved that we got a story that focused on more Jewish traditions too. It was just a joy to read.
│Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus│Myra McEntire│★★★│
│MC’s mother is battling mental illness. │
The whole mess started when I lit the church on fire.
Vaughn Hatcher set the barn next to the church on fire and now he must pay for it by helping prepare for the Christmas Pageant he ruined thanks to his little fireworks prank on the school jock.
I did not like this at first. It didn’t seem like it was going to have all that much depth in the beginning but once I got further it was more enjoyable, apparently, I just need to learn the main characters emotional pain for me to be invested. I think Gracie and her father outshone Vaughn a bit but I wasn’t complaining.
│❄️│Welcome to Christmas, CA│Kiersten White│★★★★★│
│Poverty. LI was incarcerated. MC is Mexican.│
“I’m pretty sure you spice your cookies with something illegal.”
“Cinnamon is not a controlled substance.”
“That should be the title of your memoir.”
Maria wants nothing more than to get the fuck out of her not-even-a-town, Christmas, California. But then her mum hires a new cook, Ben, at the diner who always seems to know exactly what food will comfort a person and it’s getting harder for Maria to walk away, especially when ben’s food keeps bringing out the best in people.
I love the idea of food healing people and someone knowing exactly what to cook for a person to make them feel better. It was incredibly magical! I loved Maria, even though she did complain a lot but I could understand where she was coming from and I enjoyed her sense of humour.
│Star of Bethlehem│Ally Carter│★★★½│
Tell Liddy they’re coming!
Lydia needs to escape her life for a little while so when she sees an Icelandic girl, who looks like her, needs to swap her ticket for a New York one she doesn’t think twice. But she didn’t expect a family waiting for her on the other side of her plane ride, ready to bring her into their family and shower her with love and acceptance. And she sure didn’t expect to fall in love while she was there.
Ethan and his family were the stars of Bethlehem. Not Lydia, who as the main character of the story, should have been the star. I did want things to work things out for her but I was hoping for a better twist and reveal. Aunt Mary though is a wholesome blessing, and I love her.
│The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer│Laini Taylor│★★★½│
│Rape culture. Sexual Harassment. Child labour. │LI is POC. Poverty. MC is an orphan. │
“Please God,” she whispered, and right away it struck her as the wrong plea. If there was a god, then Neve’s whole life was a crime He had committed against her, and she dared attract no more of his attention.
Neve is scared. She’s looking into her future and either seeing a life of poverty and slow death or one violence and an early grave, married to the local Reverend who will do anything to make sure she belongs to him. But The Dreamer hears her prayers, and he’ll do anything to protect her.
This was good, but I think this story would have done better as a full-length novel. It was magical and creepy and had a mostly good balance of fantasy and real life. However, I was really bored to begin with because of how depressing it was at first. It was reminiscent of A Series of Unfortunate Events in that way I guess. I wish there had been a little magic going on with Neve to begin with just so it wasn’t all so bleak when we’re first introduced to her and her world.
“Are you trying to fix me?”
“Why? Are you broken?”
I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by <i>My True Love</i>, I loved quite a few of them and still enjoyed just as many. But of course, there was still a couple that didn’t really do anything for me.
It 100% helped to put me in the Christmas spirit though, and I think that makes it a success.
With dawn of the new year on the horizon, I resolved to exert my will on the world.
*Taken from Goodreads.
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Past Grey’s Shelves
I think I like this whole Christmas book idea.
Have you read My True Love Gave to Me?
What did you think of it?
Do you read Christmas themed books near Christmas?