My True Love Gave to Me is an anthology I’ve been wanting to cover for a while. However, since it’s a book for the holiday season, I decided to wait until today. The book is bursting with stories from twelve bestselling YA authors, so it was difficult to choose just three to cover. In the end, I went with my gut and chose my three favorite stories. Enjoy!
Reading Between the Lines
My True Love Gave To Me was originally published in 2014 for that year’s winter season, and was followed this past summer by another anthology of twelve stories, Summer Days and Summer Nights (which, unfortunately, I haven’t had time to read yet!).
For any fan of Young Adult romance, My True Love Gave To Me is an absolute dream. For readers who aren’t familiar with YA literature, or don’t particularly like it, an anthology like this is the perfect way to sample the distinct writing styles of a dozen different authors. Plus, there’s something so special and magical about holiday-based romances.
December is the perfect time to stay in bed and read, so I won’t be spoiling any of the stories’ endings this week. Read them yourself and thank me later. Enjoy the outfits, and have a cozy holiday season!
1. It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown
Stephanie Perkins is a master of realistic, relatable romances, and this story is no exception. It centers around Marigold Ling and North Drummond, two 19-year olds who have crossed paths at Drummond Family Trees, in Marigold’s search for the perfect tree. The title of this story comes from her request for a “Charlie Brown,” because a small tree is all that will fit in her cluttered apartment. It also references how Marigold's scientific family celebrates Winter Solstice – Yule – rather than Christmas.
I love this story for its lovely character relationship, and its moral: This story reminds us that Christmas is not the only winter holiday, and cultural artifacts like Christmas trees can be celebrated secularly, without angels and Santas, with just as much holiday cheer.
My personal favorite holiday sweater is Peanuts-themed, so I jumped at the chance to use one for this outfit. Given that Marigold wears a warm wool skirt with thick tights, I took up the challenge of combining an ugly holiday sweater with a feminine skirt. And since North remembers her in part because of the stylish braid she has pinned on her head, I included a hair photo for additional inspiration.
2. Star of Bethlehem
This heartwarming story by Ally Carter (author of the Gallagher Girls series) centers around an unforgettable Christmas in the heart of Oklahoma. Lydia, a teenage girl with big secrets, decides to trade plane tickets with an Icelandic girl in the airport, and ends up having to pretend to be “Hulda,” while living with her pretend-boyfriend’s welcoming family.
This story is like one of those delightful Christmas movies that airs on TV every year, compressed into a single short story – meaning that plot is key here. Unlike Stephanie Perkins’ story, which focuses on the development of a romantic relationship, “Star of Bethlehem” is a holiday tale that emphasizes family above all else, with a heartening climactic twist.
For this one, I wanted to create a casual outfit with jeans and a flannel, not unlike the one that Ethan wears when Lydia first meets him. The shoes, however, are a statement piece because of the reference to Icelandic holiday traditions, including Saint Thorlakur’s Day, which involve placing shoes in windows for children.
The rest of the accessories are western-inspired, except for the Christmas socks - my love of socks is never-ending - and the sunglasses, which hint at Lydia's attempt to hide her past.
3. The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer
Author Laini Taylor, whose work in fantasy literature has cemented her reputation in the YA world, creates an intensely romantic world set on the mystical Isle of Feathers in some faraway land. This is my favorite story in the collection, and is the last in the book.
On the Isle of Feathers, December is the month of courtship, where suitors leave presents for their intended brides every day until Christmas Eve. Protagonist Neve, who is desperate to avoid the affections of the town lecher, awakens a god – the Dreamer – who falls in love with her in an incredibly magical way.
The imaginative quality of this story is dreamlike, and reads like a fairytale. Unlike the other two stories, “The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer” does not attempt to be realistic in subject matter; rather, it is relatable for its theme of overcoming differences through love.
This is the most formal of the three looks, and reflects the Christmas Eve ball, to which Neve wears her gifts. The clutch is perfect, as it encompasses both the black feathers of the island and the iridescent, otherworldly quality of her gifts. The ornate ring, of course, represents the stunning beetle ring the Dreamer gives her on the first day.
The dress is the focal point of the outfit, playing with lighting, color, and texture while being elegant and flattering. Since this is a winter outfit, I included a tuxedo-inspired jacket to wear over the velvet dress, which also adds to the mystery of the look. And because every piece is so eye-catching, I chose transparent heels to complement the outfit without being overpowering.
What do you like to read over your winter break? This is sadly my last long break in college, so please feel free to comment any more book recommendations, holiday-related or not!