Saturday, 14 February 2015

Review: My True Love Gave To Me (Anthology) edited by Stephanie Perkins

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year's there's something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

First off, Happy Valentine’s Day! And what better way to celebrate than with an anthology of love and fluff filled stories. Whilst this is technically a Christmas book, I think that the fluffiness contained within these pages is more than enough to satisfy any need for smushy love stories today.

The full list of authors is impressive: Rainbow Rowell, Kelly Link, Matt de la Peña, Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, David Levithan, Holly Black, Gayle Forman, Myra McEntire, Kiersten White, Ally Carter and Laini Taylor. A smorgasbord of incredible Young Adult authors from across a multitude of genres.

With every anthology you end up with a bit of a mixed bag of stories with some that you wish were much longer and had their own books, and others that you end up skimming or skipping entirely. Due to the incredible array of authors you also end up with fantasy stories getting cosy next to contemporary which can end up as more than a little confusing to change mindsets so quickly for each story. It might have worked slightly better had the order been rearranged, but that is a minor quibble and something that may not even bother most people. That said, having such a diverse range of authors with their individual styles, meant that there were a truly wonderful collection of stories filled with people of all races, ethnicities, religions and sexualities.

It’s bookended with two of the best stories, starting with Rainbow Rowell’s “Midnights” which tells a love story set on New Years Eve over several years and several midnights which just melted my heart into a pile of goo right from the start. It was a fantastic start to the book, but it also set the bar stupidly high which not all of the other stories lived up to. And then that ending with Laini Taylor’s “The Girl who Woke the Dreamer”. Oh my. I mean I love Taylor’s book so I was expecting something good, but this one completely blew me away. It was haunting and gorgeous and so completely different to anything else in the anthology. It sends you away on a truly incredible high.

The middle is a mixed bag, with some truly wonderful stories like Stephanie Perkins “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown” which will give you all of the feels a massive silly grin on your face by the end, and some that I didn’t even reach the end of. The fantasy stories feel a little out of place, but once you get past that Holly Black’s “Krampuslauf” and Kelly Link’s “The Lady & The Fox” are gorgeous and really add a different feel to the anthology.

Sadly for me the stories that let the anthology down were David Levithan, Ally Carter and Jenny Han, which was tragic given that Levithan’s was the only LGBT story in the anthology. I just didn’t connect to the characters in the same way as I did with the other stories.

This is a great anthology that is wonderful to dip in an out of when you need some guaranteed fluff and romance in a wide variety of styles and settings. I read it over Christmas and it was a wonderful piece of escapism around the holiday season. But given the content I also recommend it as a book to read today. It’s a wonderful collection of tales from some of the best YA authors writing at the moment and will leave you with a lot of the warm fuzzies.

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