When You Get The Chance
– Emma Lord –
Published 4 January 2022
I really hope the title of this book is in reference to the song I Hope You Dance. “When you get the chance, I hope you dance…”. If so, it is the perfect theme song for this musical theatre-loving celebration of love, found-family and connection.
Emma Lord delivers once again on a delightful YA contemporary novel about growing up and finding your voice.
Millie knows who she is and where she’s going. She just needs to get her dad onboard with the plan. When Millie is accepted into musical theatre pre-college, she is devastated when her dad says she can’t go. Stumbling upon her father’s old LiveJournal from his own college days provides her with the perfect clues to finally find her mother. If she can get her mother on her side, it will make precollege a reality. With the help of her best friend, Millie finds herself in her very own Mamma Mia – three possible women, three possible mothers. As Millie gets to know each one (through a series of hilarious and touching set-ups), it becomes harder to say goodbye to the possibly of the different realities she has found. Millie must also face the hurt she has caused in her search – to her family, friends and herself.
This is such a fun and lovely book. Millie makes a big mess. Like big time. And she makes some poor decisions. And antagonises people around her. But I loved her. She is true to herself (even when trying to fool herself). And she demonstrates such growth, owns up to her mistakes and tries to make it right.
The situation is a little confusing. Three women. Three possible mothers. Millie gets close to them via a musical-theatre enthusiast meet up, a talent agency internship and dance classes. These put her close to the women but also pull into Millie’s life her archnemesis from school and a new friend who might also be her half sister. Along with Millie’s dad, her aunt and Millie’s best friend, we have a vibrant and easy-to-love cast of characters. But as Millie eliminates the women as possible mothers, she also finds it hard to say goodbye to them from her life. It raises the beautiful theme of found family and the conclusion was as surprising and delightful as it was satisfying – not easy to do, given the lead in.
Anxiety, mental health and identity are also issues Millie deals with. While confident and loud in some areas, she is uncertain in others and I think her voice will be relatable for so many teens. Anxiety doesn’t always present itself in the same way, as Millie learns, and I love that this is portrayed so well in this book.
A really fun book that will leave a smile on your face and in your heart (I know, sounds trite but IT’S TRUE).
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Musical theatre, friendship, LGBT, mothers, identity, internship, romance, GeoCaching, Father-daughter relationships,
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Representation: White main character, Asian side character, LGBT side characters, heterosexual main relationship, LGBT side relationship.
Advisory: Coarse language, f*** (3), sh** (31), as***** (2), pi** (3). Vague sexual references.
Published: 4 January 2022 by Wednesday Books
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. 320 pages.