When You Get the Chance is a YA contemporary novel by Emma Lord (author of Tweet Cute and You Have a Match) that will be published tomorrow, January 4, 2022. This is the story of Millie Price who goes in search of her mother who left her on her father’s doorstep when she was an infant in order to get someone on her side about going to a precollege program to get a jump start on her Broadway dreams. This was a cute and fun read but ultimately a little predictable and convenient, I was between 3 and 4 stars and ended up at 3.
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?
This was cute and I really liked the beginning but it ended pretty middle of the road for me. In the beginning, the characters hooked me. Millie is somehow right on that fine line between totally annoying and amusing which really worked with this plot and played well off of the other characters. I loved her interactions with Teddy and found it refreshing to see that kind of friendship in a YA novel with no romance behind it. Millie’s dad and aunt were also really interesting characters and I loved their family dynamic. The other characters were all decent but there really were a lot of them for a 320 page book.
The romance was also cute, a nice enemies to lovers that you could see coming from the first page but it was well done and sweet. And while her reasons for doing it were a little wonky, the search for her mother was enjoyable to read. However, this eventually all got a little stale, there was a lot going on but I could see where everything is going (I knew who the mom would be a mile away, sooo many little hints were dropped). It wasn’t that I wasn’t enjoying the story but I had no real drive to keep reading when it was pretty obvious. I also thought the change in Millie didn’t really make sense and it isn’t really talked about except for her clothes so just odd overall that she seemed to have a personality switch. The book takes place over 2 weeks and it just seemed like the author was trying to tone her down at the end. I also wasn’t a fan of any of the other side romances, it just isn’t necessary to pair up every character in a book, it felt way too forced.
I also think people will be split on this one because it relies pretty heavily on musical theater references. I did musicals in high school and knew a good amount of the references as most are pretty classic ones and not super recent. So I didn’t find it annoying but if you don’t know who Elphaba, Javert, Kate Monster or Feyero are (to name a few), it might start to get on your nerves as these are consistently dropped throughout with little to no explanation. If you love musicals, then you’ll probably eat it up as the references did seem be used well from the ones I was familiar with.
Overall, I thought this was cute and enjoyed my time but a fairly middle of the road YA contemporary. I’m still interested in reading Lord’s other books, I’ve had Tweet Cute on my shelf for a long time, I’ll get to it eventually.
* I received a free eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.