Illustration of ice rink surrounded by trees and mountains, with twelve couples skating

Cover Story: Tina Turner
The Best: “What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?” by Gayle Forman
The Worst Not Most Favourite: “Midnights” by Rainbow Rowell
The Weird: “Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me” by Jenny Han
Bonus Factors: Tasty Business, New Adults, Parents, Diversity
Break Glass In Case Of: Grinch Deterrent

Cover Story: Tina Turner

Just like the Queen of Rock ‘n Roll, this cover is SIMPLY THE BEST. As if it wasn’t already cute enough — the skating couples are actually from each of the short stories! SO PRESH. And the adorbs continues on the inside, with matching illustrations for each story (also done by cover designer Jim Tierney)!

Well played, St. Martin’s Griffin. Well played.

The Deal:

OK, I normally abhor ANYTHING holiday/Christmas-related until December. But the weather outside is frightful.* And these holiday stories by twelve YA superstars are so delightful. From Christmas to New Year’s and everything in between, there’s a little of everything in this collection. Especially kissing. Always the kissing.

*No, really. It’s been snowing non-stop as I type this.

The Best: “What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?” by Gayle Forman

It was nearly impossible to single out just one story as the best — in reality, it’s like a five- or six-way tie — so I went with the quote-worthiest, according to my ereader highlights.

It’s Sophie Roth’s freshman year of college, and she’s one of the few students on campus that hasn’t left for winter break yet. In her holiday orphan desperation, she’s even considering joining the Christmas carolers — and Sophie’s Jewish. But fate (and butt warmers) intervenes.

The Worst Not Most Favourite: “Midnights” by Rainbow Rowell

A Rainbow Rowell story that FYA doesn’t love?! BLASPHEMY, I know. While I wouldn’t consider anything in the entire collection to be flat-out bad, “Midnights” didn’t work for me because of the plot. (No other complaints about the writing, because Rainbow Rowell is still Rainbow Rowelling.)

Mags is sitting out this New Year’s Eve after three years of watching her BFF Noel, whom she’s secretly in love with, share midnight kisses with other girls. THREE YEARS, Y’ALL. Those are 1093 other midnights that could be spent NOT pining! Pine is for Christmas trees and scented car fresheners! I realize it might be sweet and romantic to some, but years of unrequited love without doing anything about it ain’t my cup of hot cocoa.

The Weird: “Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me” by Jenny Han

Even though there are other stories with supernatural elements, the one with elves and Santa gets my vote for the weirdest.** Reminiscent of Buddy in Elf, human Natalie grew up in the North Pole and feels like an outcast among the elves. Although there’s nothing weird about Santa’s fave Christmas song being Wham!’s “Last Christmas”, because TRUTH. (“All I Want for Christmas Is You”“Christmas Is All Around”, and “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” would be my runners-up. But no others. Come at me in the comments.)

**Maybe because, as a chimney-less apartment dweller in my early years, I’ve never believed in Santa at all. And now I’m DEAD INSIDE.

Bonus Factor: Tasty Business

Table with flutes of champagne, Christmas cake, chicken, and presents

What holiday festivity would be complete without food? The tastiest of business takes place in the year-round Christmas-themed diner of “Welcome to Christmas, CA” by Kiersten White.

On the flip side, many people do go without enough to eat this time of year. College student Shy in Matt de la Peña’s “Angels in the Snow” totally reminds me of the importance of services like the Campus Food Bank at my alma mater. 

Bonus Factor: New Adults

Jenna Rink dancing to Thriller from movie 13 Going on 30

I’ve already mentioned that there are a couple of protags in college, but some stories also feature mythical creatures that have graduated high school and… aren’t going into post-secondary right away?! IMAGINE THAT. Maria in “Welcome to Christmas, CA” is working to save up for college, while Marigold in Stephanie Perkins’ “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown” creates animated short films in the hopes of getting noticed by an animation studio. Not a child, not yet an adult…!

Parents from Easy A smiling and looking into a laptop during a video chat

Bonus Factor: Parents

Adoptive parents, absentee parents, deceased parents — there are all kinds of parents in this anthology. Including a Keith Mars Award for Awesome Dadhood recipient for one that’s a parent in everything but name. 

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Faces of all different races, ethnicities and genders.

Dreaming about white Christmases is fine and well — as long as we’re only talking about snow. But this book doesn’t stick to either white or Christmas. Several protagonists and love interests are persons of colour, and some authors focus on lesser-known celebrations, like Holly Black does with Krampuslauf in the story of the same name (which has the best party in an airstream trailer outside of ATXFYA). And the money woes faced by a few characters might be particularly relatable during the holiday season. 

Diversity extends to the romances, too. There are several interracial couples, and in “Your Temporary Santa” by David Levithan, the main character adorably dresses up as Santa for his new boyfriend’s little sister. 

Break Glass In Case Of: Grinch Deterrent

If you’re in need of festive cheer, My True Love Gave to Me has it in spades. The stories might be short, but their emotional depth will make your heart grow three sizes larger.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from St. Martin’s Griffin. I received neither money nor froyo for writing this review (dammit!). My True Love Gave to Me is available now.

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.