I had a feeling Emma Lord would be the exception for my self-diagnosis of “allergic to YA contemporaries” ever since reading the synopsis for her debut. And after reading an ARC for her upcoming novel, you know what? I was right.
Thank you so much Wednesday Books for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! Quotes are subject to change upon final publication.
rep: Chinese-American love interest
When You Get The Chance is going to be one of the best contemporaries of the year. Yeah, I said it. There’s so much to it: musical references, strong characters, a great focus on family and friend relationships, discovering oneself, and a rivals-to-lovers romance. And every single element works well together, without infringing on the others.
Millie Price is a Broadway-aspiring, extroverted girl who is on a mission to find her mom after her dad turns down her dreams of going to a precollege across the country. In a sort of reverse Mamma Mia situation, Millie juggles an internship competing against her biggest rival Oliver, making friends with a girl who might possibly be her half-sister, and taking dancing classes all to narrow down which woman out of three is her biological mother.
I adored this book. It was entertaining in all the best ways. There were so many musical references! Sure, I didn’t get half of them but if you’re a die-hard theater fan? Please stop reading this review right now. Just go read this book. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Even if you’re not a musical theater fan (how could you not be one…?) there is still so much to love about this story. Millie’s sweet relationship with her single dad and her close friendship with her neighbor Teddy are all high points for sure. Friends-to-lovers is an amazing trope, don’t get me wrong, but it’s so nice to read about soulmates that are just platonic. Speaking of which, the romance isn’t the biggest feature in this book and you know what? It works. There’s just enough pagetime for our two leads (rivals-to-lovers can be a complicated trope) to have chemistry, while never taking away from Millie’s arc.
One thing I love about New York is that if you get the right writer, it can feel like the most magical place on earth.
“There’s this nonstop hopefulness, this weird charge that never leaves the air, like anything can happen. Like your destiny is constantly right around the corner.”
And Emma Lord does it so well. I, the person who cannot sing worth a dime and has two left feet and couldn’t play the role of Peppa Pig if my life was on the line, wanted to do musical theater after this book. No joke. On another note, I also appreciate how Lord touched on some of the racism that is in the industry from the perspective of Oliver Yang, a Chinese-American boy. She didn’t go into depth with it but it’s still touched on.
The tone of this book somehow manages to be serious and light at the same time. Millie has such a loud personality, but at her most vulnerable moments one can’t help but relate to her. Watching her do all of these crazy things just to find out her mom is, and then discovering what exactly is so important about her discovering this fact is just…really well-done.
Overall, When You Get The Chance is very nearly a perfect contemporary novel for me. It’s an effortless blend of musical theater, self-reflection, family/friend relationships, chaotic happenings, and sweet, believable romance that has cemented it as an all-time favorite for me. I’m giving this 4.5/5 stars! This comes out January 4th, and you can add it to Goodreads, Storygraph, or preorder it. Tell me: are you excited about this one? What’s your favorite Emma Lord novel?