STARRED REVIEW
December 26, 2021

When You Get the Chance

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Raised by her dad, theater-loving Millie longs to discover her mom’s identity. Does her dad’s old LiveJournal hold the key?
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Millie Price has her heart set on Broadway, so when her single dad tells her that he wants her to stay in New York for her senior year of high school rather than attending the prestigious musical theater pre-college she’s been accepted to in California, she feels her dreams slipping away. When she stumbles across her dad’s old college-era LiveJournal, however, she discovers the perfect solution. If Millie can find her mom, she’s convinced she’ll have an ally—but the LiveJournal entries mention three different women. As Millie sets out to find out which of her dad’s former flames is her mother, she realizes there’s someone else she needs to get to know: herself.

Emma Lord’s When You Get the Chance is an exuberant celebration of all things Broadway, complete with musical theater references on nearly every page. But this gender-bent Mamma Mia! retelling is also a touching exploration of what family really looks like, and a powerful reminder that sometimes everything we need is already right in front of us.

Millie describes herself as “a lot,” and she’s not wrong. With her meticulously styled looks and her “Millie Moods,” which she describes as feeling like “everything is just so much that . . . it’s going to spill out of me if I don’t find a place to put it,” Millie is an unapologetically loud character who is unafraid to take up space. Add in her deep-seated kindness and her single-minded pursuit of her goals, and Millie is a fun and easy protagonist to root for.

The book’s supporting characters come to life just as vividly, from Millie’s steadfast best friend, Teddy, and her drama club rival-turned-crush, Oliver, to her introverted dad and the outgoing aunt who helped him raise her, to each of her potential moms. This rich cast of characters creates an enviable found family that lifts one another up and shows Millie that there might be a better way to achieve her dreams.

Perfect for the “theater dweebs” to whom the book is dedicated, as well as any teen who’s ever felt somehow incomplete, When You Get the Chance is a joyful read that will have readers tapping their toes to the music in Millie’s heart.

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