Brought together by award-winning author Stephanie Perkins, this diverse and heart-warming collection of holiday stories is written by a veritable Who’s Who of YA authors. At turns bleak and hopeful, themes of escape, self-discovery, and acceptance are woven throughout these tales of teens struggling with such issues as being away from home for the first time, broken and non-traditional families, and unrequited love. In Kiersten White’s gratifying “Welcome to Christmas, CA,” Maria desperately saves money to escape her small, gimmicky California town where she unhappily lives and works for her mother. David Levithan’s touching addition, “Your Temporary Santa,” features a teen who dresses up as Santa in an effort to save the magic of Christmas for his boyfriend’s younger sister.

Although it includes the typical assortment of Christmas stories, this volume moves beyond to include the devilish Krampus, the celebration of Hanukkah, and Yule. The diversity doesn’t end there; character-centered narratives are respectful, without being preachy, in their depictions of varying sexual orientations, races, and cultures, largely presenting the protagonists as well-rounded and free of clichés. Mostly realistic but occasionally fantastical, this anthology is sure to be a hit for those who enjoy the whimsy and romanticism of the holidays.

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