Monday, December 29, 2014

Book Review: My True Love Gave To Me

In addition to teaching me about the stringency of Overdrive's due dates, My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories also provided a great read. This book of short stories was edited by Stephanie Perkins and included pieces by some of my very favorite YA authors.  I can honestly say that I liked every single story in the book--although, of course, I liked some more than others.

I actually think that my favorite story in the book might have been the very first one. It's called "Midnights" and was written by Rainbow Rowell, who I love.  It traces the relationship of a pair of best friends, Mags and Noel, through four New Years' Eves. As always, I just love how Rainbow Rowell develops characters and can make them so fascinating, so real, even when their situations might be so common. The group of friends on this story made me think fondly of my own group of high school friends and the parties that we used to have.

I also really enjoyed "Angels in the Snow" by Matt de la Pena. I think I've read a short story by him in another anthology, but never anything longer. This story hinged basically all on character, as the two principal characters, Shy and Haley, were snowed in to a New York City apartment complex for Christmas. Both of them are working through their reasons for being alone for Christmas, and even though there's not a ton of action, I felt like the short story packed in so much about Shy--really good stuff.

Another standout was "It's A Christmas Miracle, Charlie Brown" by Stephanie Perkins (who also edited the entire volume). In this short story, Marigold finds herself buying a Christmas tree (a "Charlie Brown"-type tree) that she doesn't need and can't afford from North's family's tree farm, simply because she wants to get close to North... for his voice.  So she can ask him to help her record a broadcast that might be her ticket into college and out of town. But the tree-buying leads to North carrying the tree back to her apartment, which is rather.... messy and overcrowded. But she and her mother are NOT hoarders, thank you very much. And somehow she and North end up spending the whole night cleaning and rearranging the entire apartment while getting to know each other. NOT what you might envision as a love story, but it totally works.

As if that's not great enough, there's also "What in the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?" by Gayle Forman. In this one, the title character meets the tall, dark, and handsome Russell when she mutters a crazy-person under-her-breath comment about Ned Flanders while attending a campus caroling event.

There were also stories I really enjoyed by authors I haven't read before, including "Beer Buckets and Baby Hesys" by Myra McEntire, "Welcome to Christmas, CA" by Kiersten White, and "The Star of Bethlehem" by Ally Carter.  These are all names I've heard often in YA circles but haven't had time to read yet.  After immensely enjoying their short stories, they'll be on my reading list for the future.

In short, My True Love Gave To Me is definitely a book not to be missed.  Even though the Christmas holiday has passed for this year, this book is still a must-read.... The coming of January may just mean shorter wait lists at your library!

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