Emma Lord has done it again, reinvigorating us all with a new story with romance, family drama, and musicals! When You Get the Chance tells the story of Millie Price, a teenager dead-set on achieving her dream of becoming a famous Broadway star.
She refuses to let anything get in her way, whether it is her irritating rival Oliver, her caring but overprotective father, or her “Millie Moods” that threaten to derail her at the worst possible times. But when she finds and reads her father’s old LiveJournal entries from 2003, Millie has a new mission: find her birth mother.
As she embarks on a journey to find her mother, Millie grapples with trying to uncover her past while keeping sight on what she has had all along.
A love letter to musical theater
There are enough musical references in this book to make a musical theater geek salivate.
From Newsies to Cats, Emma Lord makes it a point to include as much musical content as possible in When You Get the Chance–even the title appears to be pulled directly from ABBA’s Dancing Queen!
Millie’s devotion to her career path and all things Broadway was such a tangible joy that seemed to jump off the page. Her love for this field felt contagious, and it actually succeeded in revitalizing my love for musicals, something that I did not actively seek out since high school.
Lord also manages to pen the experience of musical theater, of hanging in the wings with your friends, of working as a cohesive team to put on the best show possible. The friendships that you make in musical theater create some of the best memories that you look fondly back on, and Lord’s ability to craft this nostalgia into words was impeccable.
Family, friendship, and love are woven into the story
Enemies- or rivals-to-lovers plots is certainly a favored trope in young adult fiction, and Oliver and Millie’s relationship did not disappoint in this regard. Their bickering was sharp and witty, but they were a phenomenally dynamic duo that were unstoppable when paired together. You cannot help but root for them to get together every step of the way, and although the romance is slow-burn, it’s more than worth the wait.
Oliver and Millie’s relationship is certainly an important element of the plot, but it is not the main focus of the story, as family dynamics take precedence in the book. Of course, much of this story revolves around Millie and the identity of her mother. Yet Lord also creates a lovable character in Millie’s father Cooper, and it was a shame that he and Millie did not get a lot of on-page interactions together. Father-daughter relationships are rarely written about in books. It is even rarer to see them written well.
Millie’s relationships with her aunt Heather and her childhood best friend Teddy were also fantastic to watch unfold. Her relationships with her family and the people she considers family were incredibly tight, withstanding even the most troubling of conflicts. It was also great to see a male and female pair–Teddy and Millie–remain as very close friends throughout the book, rather than fall into the trap of an obvious romance.
Emma Lord’s When You Get the Chance is a hilarious and sweet story, as well as a fantastic follow-up to her previous works. If you are looking for a book that will make your heart swell and your face hurt from smiling, look no further.
When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord was released on January 4th, 2022.