When You Get the Chance: Theater, Parents, and Fighting For Your Dreams

Why do all Emma Lord’s books make me sob at 2 AM?? Like Tweet Cute….crying and hungry. You Have A Match…absolute sobbing. And the same can be said for When You Get A Chance. It’s dramatic, heartbreaking, inspiring, and cute AF.

Let’s talk about all the feels!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

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?

To say Millie is ambitious would be an understatement. She knows what she wants and she knows what she’s going to do to get it. She wants to be a Broadway star and to get there, she needs to go to this special Broadway school in California. But someone is getting in her way: her dad.

He doesn’t want to let her go across the country especially when there is so much she could do right where they live.

But Millie is not giving up. Especially not when she finds her dad’s old LiveJournal that just so happens to talk about the mom she never met. She dropped Baby Millie on her dad’s doorstep and that was it.

With the information Millie discovers, she decides to find her mom and get her to convince her dad that she should go to this fancy school (she’s a teen, Logic isn’t always the name of the game).

While searching for her mom, she inadvertently gets a chance at an internship with a theater talent agent much to the chagrin of her frenemy Oliver. He is…a little pissed when she shows up and gets the internship along with him, but she’s not about to tell him she’s just there to find out if the secretary, Steph, is her mom. SHE HAS SOME DIGNITY! And she can’t let him win! (or maybe she can when she starts to have feelings for him…)

Millie also finds two other potential moms in a mother who runs a theater lovers group and another that runs a dance class. She meets each one of these women and comes to care for them.

It gets to the point where she’s not sure she wants to know who her mother is because when she does find out…then she has to do something with that information. She has to confront her actual mother.

She also doesn’t tell her dad or her aunt about anything that she’s doing. The only one who knows is her best friend Teddy. This causes all sorts of problems for Millie and her family. Like BIG complicated, emotional problems that Millie never saw coming.

I really loved how this book dealt with single parenting, parents who leave their kids for whatever reason, and the way those kids deal with that abandonment. It’s done in a very nuanced way and…did I mention the sobbing??

I also appreciated that Millie is not that likable. I liked her, but I pretty much like all unlikable girl/woman characters lol. As great as she is at performing and as much confidence as she has, she has her flaws and she works through them and grows as she goes through this journey.

The relationships in the story were also incredibly well done. Millie and her dad. Millie and her aunt. Millie and Teddy. Millie and her potential moms. Millie and Oliver. All the relationships are complex, well-developed, and clearly well thought out.

Also, while I’m not a theater person (although I do love a good musical), I felt completely immersed in Millie’s world.

I am giving When You Get The Chance 5 out of 5 stars.

If you liked any of Emma Lord’s other books or are a fan of YA contemporary/romance, this is definitely a book you want to check out!

When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord is out on January 4, 2022.

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the free eARC in exchange for my honest review.

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