Fun fact about April: I love musicals. Can I sing? Absolutely not. Can I dance? Oh, hell no. But can I enthusiasticaly bob my head to my favorite showtunes and perfrom highly exaggerated and dramatic solos in front of the bathroom mirror? Uh, yeah, that’s where I shine.
Book: When You Get the Chance
Author: Emma Lord
Published January 4th 2022 by Wednesday Books
parental abandonment, mention of divorce, one Harry Potter reference
Nothing will get in the way of Millie Price’s dream to become a Broadway star. Not her lovable but super-introverted dad, who after raising Millie alone, doesn’t want to watch her leave home to pursue her dream. Not her pesky and ongoing drama club rival, Oliver, who is the very definition of Simmering Romantic Tension. And not the “Millie Moods,” the feelings of intense emotion that threaten to overwhelm, always at maddeningly inconvenient times. Millie needs an ally. And when a left-open browser brings Millie to her dad’s embarrassingly moody LiveJournal from 2003, Millie knows just what to do. She’s going to find her mom.
There’s Steph, a still-aspiring stage actress and receptionist at a talent agency. There’s Farrah, ethereal dance teacher who clearly doesn’t have the two left feet Millie has. And Beth, the chipper and sweet stage enthusiast with an equally exuberant fifteen-year-old daughter (A possible sister?! This is getting out of hand). But how can you find a new part of your life and expect it to fit into your old one, without leaving any marks? And why is it that when you go looking for the past, it somehow keeps bringing you back to what you’ve had all along? (from Goodreads)
Emma Lord’s When You Get the Chance is literally a love letter to musical theather. Not only that, but this book is really freaking fun. It’s like Emma Lord took a gazillion theater references, Mamma Mia, and sheer teenage melodrama together and made it a book. And it is brilliant.
Can we start with the fact that Millie is my actual favorite? This girl is dramatic, yeah, a little vain, but she is bursting with confidence and energy that most can hardly dream of. She is so wholly Millie throughout the entire book.
Does she make questionable life choices at times? Uh yeah, what young adult book character doesn’t? But the way that it is written makes even the most head-scratch worthy decisions seem like the best and only option. Millie’s voice is so alive, with every move and choice feeling not just explained, but natural.
And don’t even get me going about Millie’s character development. I mean, it is undeniable that Millie is bold. She truly is a force to be reckoned with, willing to do anything necessary to get what she wants. Which inevitably unravels and leads to a whole lot of shenanigans. But throughout the aforementioned shenanigans, Millie really comes into her sense of identity and being. Those more internal realizations were really cool to follow throughout the story.
Throughout the story, it’s not just Millie who is so incredibly vibrant. No. It is every single character in this book. Coop, Heather, Teddy, Oliver, the three potential moms — literally everyone — is so distinct yet interconnected through this miraculous web of Millie-Mia. The characters truly made this book so much fun.
And you can’t forget about the theater kid energy that is quite literally bursting at the seams of this one. For one, there are more theater kid references than you can count. But even beyond that, When You Get the Chance has this raw passion for musical theater that can only come from a true musical theater nerd. It is so nerdy-ily amazing.
Oh! And the romance. Rivals-to-lovers at its finest. The glorious transition to mutual respect to maybe even friends to lovers is absolutely immaculate. I mentally clapped when the couple got together because the build up and tension between them was that good.
So yeah, you need to read this book. Not only is it a fun (and loose!) Mamma Mia retelling, but a family-centric story about identity along with an ode to musical theater. Truly, what’s not to love?
Have you read When You Get the Chance? What about any of Emma Lord’s other books? What did you think?