My True Love Gave to Me ed. by Stephanie Perkins

trueloveThis was a terrific collection. I adore Christmas story collections and each year try to find one to buy or check out (I’m partial to Christmas Regency romances.) This year I bought a YA collection, as well as got this new one from the library. A couple were just ok for me, and I skipped two, but these were the standouts I really liked:

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell-solid Rowell story. I liked checking in with the characters on each New Year’s Eve

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han-I can only describe this as “girl Elf.” A human child who Santa found as a baby and raised at the North Pole? Except she’s sadly aware that she’s human and everyone else is not. I loved the details about the elves and life with Santa (aka “Papa”).

It’s a yuletide miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins- you know how in Anna and the French Kiss and the other two Perkins book I say that her characters are so ridiculously talented in interesting and quirky ways that you can’t help but be jealous of these make believe people? I felt this story had that hallmark because Marigold is a super talented animated video creator. But beyond that I just loved this. Her hoarder like apartment (not hoarding-just the entire contents of a house left by movers in the same spot for over a year), the hunky guy and his family’s tree farm, it was all just lovely.

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White-like a Hallmark Christmas movie! Seriously, this should be a tv movie. A tiny town that’s not even a town it’s so small, a teenage girl who can’t wait to get out and leave her mom’s annoying boyfriend, they’re poor, everyone is crabby, and then a new cook comes to town who somehow knows just what people need to make them happy and cooks it. And then the wonderfully touching ending that, if you’re sappy like me, brings a tear to your eye.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter-also ripe for a tv movie. Swapping identities on the spur of the moment and going to a small town in Oklahoma where everyone thinks you’re an Icelandic exchange student but you’re really a superstar hiding out. Away from fame and your creepy manager you love the warm and big family that welcomes you. The perfect ending. This was like watching a wonderful and funny tv movie.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor- initially I thought this was a terrible choice for the last story in this holiday collection. It’s very fantasy and dreamy and really not Christmassy at all. Very different from the Hallmark Christmas movie entries. But! Laini Taylor is an awesome writer and you get so caught up in this beautiful and strange story that who cares where it is? I really liked it. It was like a magical fairy tale.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

 Funny and romantic, with nice appearances by Anna and St. Claire (from Anna and the French Kiss), which provides some nice epilogue-y updates to their story.
Sometimes I feel like every character in a YA novel is just too clever/talented/unique. Isn’t there anyone dull and boring? I guess they would be too dull to read about.

In this instance Lola is raised by her two gay dads in a fabulous house in San Francisco. Lola is an amazing and talented and quirky fashion designer.  She used to be friends with the kids next door and then fell for the boy, thought her feelings were returned, but he abruptly left. Now he’s back and it looks like the feelings are still there.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Boarding school! Romance! Paris! What an absolute delight this novel was. Anna resents being sent to boarding school in Paris; she’d rather be at home in Atlanta with her best friend, younger brother and Mom, and the boy she is sure was about to become her boyfriend.  Instead, her pushy father (too much money, not enough class) sends her away.  Anna is fortunate enough to be quickly taken in by a super group of friends (the group was in a bit of flux because one of their members moved on to college and has essentially dumped them.) The school itself is so charming and French, the cafeteria is like a fancy restaurant (and it’s down the block), the classes are tiny and interesting, and they are in an actual city neighborhood.  Over the course of the year Anna grows to know and love the city (and its many small movie theaters) and to learn French.  But the real heart of the story is her friendship with one of the boys in her group, Etienne St. Clair.  She falls deeply in love with him, and thinks he loves her, too, but they have many obstacles. Remember the member of the group who had moved on to college? That’s St. Clair’s girlfriend.  Then of course there’s Anna’s potential guy back home (a storyline which will be familiar to anyone who’s ever watched a teen movie or read another ya book.)
I was fascinated by the responsibility given to the teens as boarding school students in a city.  They all seemed ridiculously mature-basically like college students instead of high school students.
I really liked this–a good solid entertaining book.  There was something about it that I thought elevated it above a typical romance.