My high school days were spent only tangentially involved with the theater program as the secretary of the costume department, but in those few years, I must have learned more about Broadway than I thought. When you open up Emma Lord’s “When You Get the Chance,” you’re inundated with show references, and somehow, most of them didn’t go completely over my head. But it works; it’s about a theater kid, after all.
And what a fitting storyline for the theater kid in question. Millie Price is a high schooler known by the internet for a viral video of her playing young Jo March from “Little Women,” but all she wants to do is make a name for herself and show that she’s more than Little Jo. And then she gets a scholarship to a pre-college theater program — that her single father won’t let her go to.
So, Millie decides to do what any overly ambitious teen would do: find her absent mother to sign off on the program for her. A poke through her dad’s old LiveJournal reveals three women who might possibly be her mom, and soon enough, Millie is off to meet each one of them. Needless to say, consequences follow, particularly when she decides to intern one of her possible moms and her stage manager nemesis, Oliver, wants the internship as well.
Now, I’m a sucker for a good Emma Lord book. She has a way of coming up with the most intriguing concepts and then executing them tremendously. But Lord took it to the next level with “When You Get the Chance,” packing the book full of drama and plot twists and the most wonderful endings for all the characters involved. She kept me on my toes while also leaving enough clues that a clever reader could figure a few things out.
I will say — I don’t read Emma Lord books to encounter a realistic storyline. Most parts of this book are not realistic at all, and that’s the fun of it! In real life, no, relationships do not intertwine between people the way they do in YA contemporary fiction, and that’s okay because that’s not the point of this book. It’s entertaining, it’s fun and it’s just exciting to follow along with.
“When You Get the Chance” is a book full of heart. It’s dramatic, it’s joyful, it’s everything you could possibly want in a very overt homage to “Mamma Mia.” The romance, though not the main plotline of the book, totally made me swoon and squeal, to my roommate’s chagrin. It truly drives it in that family is more than blood, and it is unapologetically nerdy in so many ways. I cannot wait for this book to hit store shelves. Also, I want to watch “Mamma Mia” now.
“When You Get the Chance” is set to release on Jan. 4, 2022. I owe my life to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for sending me an early copy in exchange for a review. (Titles from Wednesday Books always hit.)