It’s the most wonderful time of the year! 12 YA authors came together and wrote short stories on Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve and the Winter Solstice. Since this is a collection of short holiday stories, we are going to rate them. Overall, most of these stories are sweet and get you into the holiday spirit.
Have you read this book? If you have, let us know your favorite stories in the comments.
1. It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins
This was easily our favorite story of the bunch. Perkins writes fabulous meet-cutes, and this short story was no exception. Nineteen year old Marigold goes to the local Christmas tree farm every day hoping she musters up the courage to ask the cute employee (North) if she can borrow (read: use) his magnificently deep voice in an episode of her YouTube series. She has absolutely no intention of buying a Christmas tree since the holiday has been ruined for her due to family drama, but she ends up walking away with the perfect Charlie Brown tree— and North’s help bringing it back to her apartment. The two spend the evening re-organizing and setting up the tree in time to surprise her mom for the Winter Solstice. The banter between North and Marigold was adorable and we loved the natural pace of their relationship. It wasn’t abrupt and there were no gaps in the story like in some of the other chapters. We wish this could be an entire book!
2. Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña
Shy is snowed in for the holidays after finishing his first semester at NYU. In exchange for cat sitting for his colleague, Shy is given a place to crash in a luxe NYC apartment building that is virtually empty. He’s hoping for some peace and quiet while he figures out his future. But when the girl upstairs, Haley, turns up looking for help with her frozen pipes, he cannot say no— he’s drawn to her. The story follows Haley and Shy as they confront their own personal issues while snowed in together. This story was sweet and totally believable. Both Shy and Haley had to work through things in their lives, and it was clear they needed to learn from each other to grow. They had incredible chemistry and we really enjoyed how Haley continued to look out for Shy even when he didn’t want help. There was also no insta-love between the two, and the ending to their story was perfect and realistic. We want to know what happens next with this duo!
3. Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White
Maria needs to escape her town of Christmas, CA, where it’s literally Christmas 365 days of the year. She lives with her mom and her mom’s boyfriend, Ricky, who runs the only diner (Christmas themed, naturally) in town. After the chef at the diner passes away, a 20-year old guy named Ben is hired as his replacement. But while Maria is waiting tables, she learns there is more to Ben than just his good looks. Together, Ben helps Sophie re-discover the joy of Christmas in her small town and reconnect with her family, while falling for each other along the way.
This was an enjoyable short story! The overarching theme was very relatable (losing the joy of Christmas) and we loved how Maria came to reconnect with her family. Ben was mysterious and we loved his banter with Maria in the diner. They really did share a bond, though we wish we could’ve gotten more of his interesting backstory. The guy had some demons in his closet we would’ve loved to learn more about! The ending was super sweet and left readers feeling warm and fuzzy.
4. Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter
Lydia is at Chicago O’Hare airport waiting for a plane to NYC when she sees a blonde girl with a foreign accent begging the flight attendant to change her ticket from an unknown destination to flight to NYC. When the girl is unable to change her flight for the holidays, Lydia offers to switch tickets with her. Turns out, the mystery girl (Helda, who resembles Lydia) is an Icelandic exchange student trying to catch a flight to NYC to meet her “other boyfriend” (whatever that means). Lydia has zero clue where she is going, but she has no plans for the holidays and decides to embrace the adventure. But it turns out pretending to be the Icelandic girlfriend of a super hot guy with his family in Oklahoma is a lot harder than it seems.
We absolutely loved the mystery behind this story. The reader has no clue why Lydia wanted to trade tickets with Helda, but the twist at the end was so satisfying. The romance between Ethan and Lydia was also super cute and we loved how he gave her a hard time for impersonating his ex-girlfriend. There were definitely some funny moments with the family too, like Lydia trying to fake-explain Icelandic Christmas traditions she had no clue about. We’d love to read more about Lydia’s story!
5. Midnights by Rainbow Rowell
The annual New Year’s Eve party is bound to bring people together. For years, Mags and Noel spent this holiday together. They bond the first year of the party when Mags makes sure he doesn’t eat something he’s allergic to and they become instant friends. Every year, the reader gets to see the two grow closer and closer as best friends. But, Mags wants more. The longer they do this, the more it hurts.
Fast forward to 2014 and they just finished their freshman year in college. Everyone is back in town for the holiday season and eager to reconnect. When Noel arrives, he’s insistent they spend some alone time together and dance in private to their song. Even though it’s been months, all their feelings rush back. We loved this friends to lovers trope. For a short story, Rowell did a good job making it slow burn. They had instant chemistry, but it took them forever for them to act on those feelings. What’s more romantic than kissing at midnight to ring in the new year?
6. What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman
Sophie Roth is stuck at her college in the middle-of-nowhere for a week before catching her flight to NYC, missing all of Hanukkah with her family. While stumbling upon an absolutely awful caroling concert, she runs into Russell, who also does not fit in at their small-town liberal arts college. The two go for pie and end up relating to each other in more than one way. When Russell learns that Sophie is missing Hanukkah with her family, he takes her on an adventure to bring the last night of Hanukkah to Sophie.
This romance was so cute! Not only was Russell and Sophie’s meet-cute adorable, but they had amazing chemistry. This was one of the few stories where the dialogue and chemistry seemed to flow naturally over the course of the chapter, with our protagonists ending their eventful day in a realistic way. We were left happy and satisfied!
7. Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han
This was a super sweet short story about a human teenager named Natalie (or Natty as she’s known), who was adopted by Santa Claus after being abandoned by her mother in South Korea as a young child. She is the only human at the North Pole but has befriended the elves and made herself at home. Natalie has a crush on her friend Flynn and at the annual ball, Natalie overhears her rival Eleanor tell Flynn that she doesn’t believe Natalie has ever met another human boy. As it turns out, Natalie has. While out with Santa years ago, the reader learns that Natalie met a boy named Lars from Sweden. We don’t want to give away the ending to this story, but the chapter ultimately deals with Natalie’s decision to seek out the boy she met years ago, or stay at the North Pole with Flynn.
We felt this chapter had so much potential! The characters were intriguing and we loved the idea of Natalie meeting another human boy. We wish the chapter had not ended on such a cliffhanger, because we are dying for this to be an entire book or novella. The story lacked any sort of resolution, but we love Han’s writing and world building so this more than made up for the ending. We could tell Natalie had major LJ vibes from TATBILB— super sweet and innocent.
8. Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan
Can a Jewish guy play Santa Claus? In fact, it’s a little insulting. The MC (who remained nameless) did not want to play Santa, but his boyfriend, Connor, begged him. His little sister Riley needed to believe. So on Christmas Eve, he breaks into the house and leaves presents. Riley sees Santa and gets excited, but not everyone in this house approves of this.
While not a ton happens in this story, we loved that a little girl got her dream of seeing Santa. It’s also the only LGBT romance in the bunch and we liked the diversity. However, we wish we got to see the MC and Conner together more. They had a really sweet scene in the end, but we found ourselves wanting to know more about them. Overall, we enjoyed this cute story and were happy Riley got her perfect Christmas.
9. The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
This story wasn’t terrible or offensive, it was just forgettable. Even though it’s the last story we read, we forgot what happened in it almost immediately. It’s about an orphan girl on an island. If a man wants to pursue you, he leaves you a gift every day from December 1st-24th. Neve realizes that the creepy old priest wants to marry her and she has to stop it. It did have a happy ending, it just didn’t give us any cute holiday feels. This was our first time reading anything from Laini Taylor.
10. Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus Myra McEntire
This story started out really funny, but got more and more annoying as it went on. It’s about Vaughn, a guy who has to volunteer with the church Christmas play to avoid juvie. He also happens to be in love with the Priest’s daughter Gracie. The romance didn’t bother us, but this story did not age well! First, it’s set at a confederate theatre. Second, liberal feminists are seen as scary and bad. What was McEntire thinking in 2014? While we always love a good bad boy trope, we couldn’t get into a story that seemed to promote things we disagreed with.
11. Krampuslauf by Holly Black
A group of friends throw a New Year’s Eve party in order to prove to one of them that her boyfriend is cheating on her. They try to have a fancy cocktail party as teenagers in a trailer park. For one night, everything should be perfect. However, add a fist fight and some unexpected non-human guests and this won’t be what’s expected.
Honestly, not much happens in this story besides the party. At the beginning the group goes to a Krampuslauf festival, which leads to some interesting guests being at the party later. For those who don’t know, Krampus is half-goat, half-demon from Central European folklore. His goal is to scare children who misbehaved. The best way to describe Black’s story was strange.
12. The Lady and The Fox by Kelly Link
Okay, this story made zero sense to us. Seriously, we had no idea what was going on. It’s about a girl who spends Christmas with family friends every year. One year when she’s outside looking at the snow on Christmas Eve, she sees a strange man with a fox on his coat. It then shows how Miranda’s life changes through year to year, but we never understand that mystery man’s purpose. It also has an unsatisfying ending. We wish it had explained more! From what we saw on Goodreads, most people rank the story the worst.