After dipping in and out of “My True Love Gave To Me” by Stephanie Perkins, (and eleven other authors), since December, I’ve finally finished this Christmassy anthology! It even seems fitting that the 12th criteria on my 2015 Reading Challenge is a book of short stories, since there are 12 Days of Christmas, and 12 authors contributing to this beautiful little book.
Of the dozen authors who each provided an original story for this collection, I’d only ever read anything by two: Stephanie Perkins (“Anna and the French Kiss”) and Rainbow Rowell (“Fangirl”) so I was jumping in blind for the other ten writers. What transpired was a new love for several, and some level of future avoidance for others.
My Goodreads Review
““Midnights” by Rainbow Rowell (7/10)
This was only the second Rainbow Rowell piece I’ve read (the other being Fangirl) but I was slightly disappointed. I understand that short stories cannot really allow the reader (or author) to get into the characters head, but I just wanted to know more about Mags and Noel. The ending was sweet though.
“The Lady and the Fox” by Kelly Link (2/10)
I really disliked the tone and jumpy nature of this story. I just didn’t connect with it at all. I found myself having to think whom the story was focusing on at any one point. Thankfully the middle of the story was marginally more enjoyable. I genuinely do not understand the plot, and I like to think I’m relatively eloquent.
“Angels in the Snow” by Matt de la Pena (9/10)
Hallelujah! Finally a story I actually enjoyed! This was super cute, I bought into the relationship between the characters and wanted them to end up together. I really liked Shy’s character, and felt emotionally attached to him, which is some feat in a short story. The ending cut off quite abruptly, but it is certainly the best of the three so far.
“Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me” by Jenny Han (8/10)
This story was cute, short and sweet. It kind of reminded me of Elf the movie (what with a human living with Elves and all). Natty and Flynn were so cute, but the ending where Flynn gives her the address of the human boy was sad.
“It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown” by Stephanie Perkins (7/10)
Whilst this story was slow to get going, I enjoyed the build up from Marigold and North’s first meeting. Initially North annoyed me a bit, he seemed a bit arrogant, but I fell in love with him as soon as he decided to help Marigold clean her apartment. The romance aspect was cute too, the fact that both characters were holding back their feelings until they exploded. I’m not too sure the ending was as good as it could’ve been though.
“Your Temporary Santa” by David Levithan (6/10)
Whilst I am glad that a gay couple was featured in this anthology, there wasn’t much of a love story here. It felt as though the love was one way, and that the main character was being taken advantage of by Connor, albeit for the benefit of giving his little sister a meeting with Santa on Christmas Eve night. This story felt a little out of place among the previous five in the collection.
“Krampuslauf” by Holly Black (5/10)
I loved the magical element of this story, but it wasn’t until the end that I comprehended that Joachim was possibly a figment of Hanna’s imagination. I found the number of characters was too many, as at times I wasn’t 100% sure who they were and where they came from. I was content with the ending in that Hanna realised that being poor or rich doesn’t have to dictate your future.
“What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?” by Gayle Forman (8/10)
This story started off in the right place, by fully engaging me! I loved that it was set at a University campus, as I was able relate to Sophie. It was funny and quirky, and I loved how Sophie’s romance with Russell came about. It was also great that together they celebrated Sophie’s religion, not Christmas.
“Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus” by Myra McEntire (7/10)
The Christmas season is all about forgiveness and love, and that’s exactly what this story encompasses. I loved that Vaughn was a prankster-loner type, and that Gracie was the Christian good-girl, but through the spirit of Christmas, they found they were exactly right for each other.
“Welcome to Christmas, CA” by Kiersten White (9/10)
I absolutely loved this story, which focused on a Hispanic girl who detests everything about her life, and can’t wait to move away to college. Then she meets Ben, who just has a spark of Christmas magic about him, and realizes that home is really where the heart is. There was also a beautiful side story about her mother and step-father, who Maria always believed were stingy, but in fact they were her saviours in disguise.
“Star of Bethlehem” by Ally Carter (7/10)
Initially this story confused me slightly, what with knowing nothing about the main character, other than the fact she willingly swapped her plane ticket with a stranger, and was headed for an undisclosed destination. When the story got going, however, it watas sweet, because upon conclusion it was apparent that Liddy hadn’t had contact with a real family in a number of years, and it felt good for her to be who she is, not who someone else wanted her to be. It was a good discovery story.
“The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer” by Liani Taylor (5/10)
This story didn’t quite fit with the anthology, and I really don’t think it was a good story to end on. It was more fantasy based, with the main character Neve being courted by a God. I enjoyed the gift-giving section, but it all felt a little too far-fetched.”
Reading this anthology has opened my eyes to the works of ten new authors, four of whom I feel a desire to explore further in the coming months: Matt de la Pena, Jenny Han, Gayle Forman and Kiersten White – if that wasn’t already entirely obvious.
The primary issue I had with this book was that there were, inevitably, stories I loved and stories I disliked. Since I was entirely unaware which way my opinion would lean before I jumped into a 30-odd page story, I was somewhat reluctant to begin a new story, whichever way the previous one went, hence why it took me as long as it did to finish this book. To rate the book as a whole, I have averaged the twelve scores, which came out at 6.66/10. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to round it down, as I don’t think it deserves seven – what can I say, I’m difficult to please!
That being said, I did enjoy the experience of reading short stories, as it has been years since I last read an anthology. I’ve also heard that Stephanie Perkins will be releasing a second collection of short stories in summer 2016, featuring an entirely different bunch (with the exception of herself) of writers, so that should be interesting.
#12 A book of short stories – My True Love Gave To Me by Stephanie Perkins and others (6/10)
Twenty-one down, twenty-nine to go. (Twenty-two read)
My journey will also be instagrammed frequently on @charlottebibliophile