Edited by Stephanie Perkins
St. Martin’s Griffin
Though I don’t believe in listening to Christmas music before U.S. Thanksgiving, I was hard pressed to resist picking up My True Love Gave to Me (hereafter abbreviated as MTLGTM) when it was released in October. Stephanie Perkins’ novels have always been equal parts enchanting and engaging, and I was pleased to find that most of the short stories in this collection possess that same ability to charm readers.
MTLGTM has a healthy mix of contemporary and fantastical settings, though of course, some are more vibrant than others. “Angels in the Snow” by Matt de la Peña takes place within two apartment units and between two characters, but the details are precisely chosen, and tough-guy Shy’s voice is striking enough to carry the story. Jenny Han writes about the girl Santa Claus adopted in “Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me”, and her life on the North Pole isn’t all Christmas lights and freshly baked cookies.
Kelly Link’s “The Lady and the Fox” brings a touch of the paranormal, along with some heartache, an excellent recipe for success in my book. Holly Black sweeps in with a darker, revenge-filled take on the holiday with “Krampuslauf,” and Laini Taylor’s prose is pure magic in “The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer.”
It was not as easy to love “Midnights” by Rainbow Rowell and Kiersten White’s “Welcome to Christmas, CA” — the former’s dialogue-heavy format was difficult to follow at times, and the latter felt rushed, too short to really develop the characters. Neither story felt substantial enough to stand on its own, and a longer format may provide more space for them to grow.
But of course, what would a collection with this title be without some lovely Christmas swoons? “ Your Temporary Santa” by David Levithan starts out bittersweet with a boy who discovers the extents one can go for love. “Star of Bethlehem” is a quiet and emotional piece from Ally Carter that nearly made me cry and Perkins herself delivers a slow burn meet-cute in “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown” that had me kicking at my duvet in glee.
Christmas might still be five weeks away, but My True Love Gave to Me proves itself to be a delightful way to count down to the holiday.