My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins (Editor)

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My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins (Editor)

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Slightly mixed, but with the three best stories so good they're each worth the cover price alone, this is a brilliant Christmas present!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: October 2014
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1447272793

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I mentioned when reviewing Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle that there was a real lack of festive YA around – at the time, I think the choice seemed to be pretty much limited to that or Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn. Both fantastic books, but a thin spread compared to the amount out there for adults and for younger children. (If I’m missing obvious ones, by the way, please let me know!) Thankfully, a dozen authors, with Stephanie Perkins as the editor, have got together to produce a perfect Christmas present here with twelve short stories set around the holidays.

What’s noticeable first off is that even though all twelve are romances, and all of them have the aforementioned holiday setting, it’s an incredibly varied selection of stories. Most are realistic contemporary ones, but we also get a story set at the North Pole and focusing on a girl raised with the elves, by Jenny Han, and supernatural-tinged ones from Kelly Link, Holly Black and Laini Taylor.

I sometimes have issues when reading short stories in that I don’t always remember them too well, especially ones I’m not overly keen on. To counter this – particularly since I was reading this for my book club – I was giving them individual scores out of 5 and writing brief notes on them. These started off fairly sensibly; giving Holly Black’s 4 out of 5 and describing it as ‘predictable but very creepy’, and quickly turned into me squealing about how fabulous certain stories were. (I dipped in and out rather than reading in order.) For Gayle Forman’s super-sweet story about a Jewish girl from New York meeting one of the very few black students at her small-town college and bonding with him over feeling like an outsider, I don’t appear to have a score, just ‘wow wow wow’. (It would have been 5, if not 6, needless to say.) As for Kiersten White’s Welcome To Christmas, CA, about a tiny census-designated town, the girl who can't wait to get out of there, the new cook who knows exactly what each person needs, and her family? After about half an hour staring at my notes because I was typing them into an iPod and was too excited to focus properly, I've given up on making head or tail of my longer statement, but the two words I have instead of a score out of 5 - utter perfection sum it up pretty well. Definitely the best short story I've read for many years, incredibly heartwarming. In addition to editing, Stephanie Perkins also provided us with a beautiful story, It's A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown - the chemistry between the central pairing here is fantastic, especially given how little time it takes Perkins to create it.

As usual, with an anthology, it’s a mixed bunch, in some ways. Jenny Han’s aforementioned story at the North Pole didn’t work too well for me, and Matt de la Pena and Myra McEntire’s left me fairly cold. Ally Carter’s, Rainbow Rowell’s and Laini Taylor’s were all good reads which didn’t quite hit the mark as much as their novels did (but bearing in mind they’re three of my very favourite YA novelists, to come close to their longer works is still impressive.) But David Levithan gives us a touching piece about a Jewish boy dressing up as Santa to do a favour for his boyfriend (it’s great to see an LGBT story included; I know there have been issues with past YA romance anthologies being very focused on heterosexual romance.) Holly Black’s and Kelly Link’s are both really good, and the stories by Gayle Forman, Kiersten White, and Stephanie Perkins are all worth the cover price alone.

For last-minute Christmas shopping, this is hard to beat!

My favourites by authors involved in this collection include Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls) by Ally Carter. Stephanie Perkins wrote There's Someone Inside Your House. If you'd like more from Jenny Han, we can recommend The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han or for Kiersten White, try Sister Assassin.

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Buy My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins (Editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins (Editor) at


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