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?
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
It goes without saying that I love Emma Lord’s books so much. Her YA books balance romance, friendship, character development, family, & more with such unique settings. If Tweet Cute was a love letter to food and You Have a Match was a love letter to sisterhood & The Parent Trap, then Emma Lord’s latest release, When You Get the Chance, is an absolute love letter to Mamma Mia, musicals, & NYC…& yes, I am definitely listening to the Mamma Mia soundtrack while writing this review!
When You Get the Chance follows rising high school senior, Millie Price, who dreams of becoming a successful Broadway actress. When Millie gets accepted into a precollege theatre program across the country, her single dad isn’t so keen to send her. Millie knows that her mother would’ve supported Millie’s desire to jumpstart her career training… except that Millie has never met her mother, only knowing that her mother left Millie at her father’s doorstep when she was a baby. When Millie & her best friend, Teddy, come across her dad’s LiveJournal from his college days, Millie identifies 3 potential women who could potentially be her mom and is determined to spend her summer in NYC finding the one, while also competing against her high school rival, Oliver, for a competitive talent agency internship.
I just have to mention that Emma Lord has some of the BEST book covers in the YA book game. Not that a book’s cover affects my opinion, but I just love the brightness & pink scheme of the book cover & I absolutely want Millie’s outfit.
Based on the synopsis, I knew going into When You Get the Chance was semi-Mamma Mia inspired but I didn’t realize how much Mamma Mia would be in this book and I LOVED EVERY PAGE OF IT! Millie’s high school in the city is finally putting on the musical during her senior year and Millie dreams of playing Donna. There are also so many references to songs – it would require a deeper analysis of the book, but I actually think the plot follows alongside the songs of the musical/movie?? Its biggest Mamma Mia element is of course Millie using her dad’s (online) journals & identifying three women who could be Millie’s mother.
Like Emma Lord’s other books, When You Get the Chance so perfectly balances all of its elements. It takes on one of my favorite tropes, enemies-to-lovers, & I knew from the get-go that there was something more to Millie & Oliver’s dislike for one another. While Millie tries to convince her dad to let her attend senior year in California, she decides to take on an internship to start saving money for the internship (and meet a mom candidate) & ultimately has to compete Oliver for the full-time spot. Emma Lord wrote in her acknowledgements that the book was a love letter to musicals & New York City, especially given that she wrote the book during the pandemic when Broadway & the city as a whole was shut down. This sentiment comes across so well through Millie’s love for Broadway, her & Oliver’s internship tasks spread around the city, and her adventures with Teddy.
The book also has a big emphasis on family. Obviously, Millie is on a quest to find her mom, but there’s also a lot of discussions about Millie and her dad’s relationship and her relationship with her aunt, Heather, who lives with Millie & also runs a milkshake bar meets music venue (I follow Emma Lord on Instagram & her love for sweets definitely comes through the Milkshake Bar!). I loved the different types of relationship development throughout, and Millie’s self growth & self realizations were huge aspects of the story. I do admit that I guessed the true identity of Millie’s mom about halfway through, but I love how the book comes full circle by its conclusion.
Overall, When You Get the Chance is for sure a favorite YA book of 2022 for me! I am so excited to see what Emma Lord has planned next!
Have you read When You Get the Chance? Have you read Tweet Cute or You Have a Match? What are your favorite musicals? Share in the comments!