When You Get the Chance / Emma Lord / Book Review


Millie Price knows she is destined for the spotlight, and nothing will get in her way. Not even her father.

Don't get her wrong. She loves her father, even as super introverted as he is. They've always been close, since she was dropped off on his porch by the mother she never knew. It's always been the two of them, which means he doesn't want to send her across the country to the super prestigious Broadway-prep pre-college she's been accepted into, even if it is the gateway to her dreams.

Millie needs an ally, someone on equal footing with her father to stand against his no-pre-college decree. She needs a mother, and lucky for her, an accidentally-left-open web browser has given her just what she needs: her dad's definitely-embarrassing but super-informative LiveJournal from the year she was born. With this information in hand, she knows just what to do: track down her mother.



I definitely didn't think I would like this one, but I gave it a shot, considering I have liked Lord's work in the past. I'm glad I did, because this book, while not perfect, is pretty solid. And fans of Mamma Mia! (of which I am not one) are likely to enjoy it even more than I did.


Father-Daughter Love It's not often that the father-daughter relationship gets some love, especially in YA where parent relationships in general are fraught with tension. So it is really great to see a father and daughter bond so strong here. Even though a big part of this book is Millie seeking someone to help her stand against her father's wishes, this isn't because she is being willful, spiteful, or obstinate. She's stubborn, something that her father respects and expects--and not in a "oh, she's an angsty teenager" way. This father-daughter duo loves each other. That's a fact.

Embracing Angst Angst features heavily in YA books, especially contemporary YA like this one. That's true, and that's unavoidable. And I'm not generally a fan of that type of angst, but the particular brand of angst featured here is very refreshing. I'm here for it. It's not I'm-a-teenager-leave-me-alone angst but spiraling emotion, mood swings, and bouts of passion--all of which is ultimately tied up in the teenage experience as much as the regular type of angst is. Millie and her "Millie Moods" show more facets of the teenage experience for sure. Her angsty nature is a part of the plot without being a part of the problem.

Mamma Mia! Overload Now, I'm not a particular fan of Mamma Mia. I've said it, and I won't apologize for it. I don't particularly like it. But this book made me appreciate the fandom, at least. Millie is a very big fan of Mamma Mia, and her plot in many ways revolves around that. And somehow, Lord makes this reverse-Mamma-Mia work. It mostly makes sense for Millie to be doing a secret-investigation of potential mothers, and that's amazing. Because it's so much easier to prove maternity, isn't it?


Millie's narrative voice is preppy, bright, fun--all of that. So this critique is by no means saying this book is hard to read. It just means that, with so many contemporary first person narrators fitting this same style, her narrative voice doesn't stand out. If you're looking for a new perspective, this isn't it--even if it remains entertaining. Conventional Voice

There are a lot of plots going on in this book. There's the whole I-want-to-go-to-pre-college plot which spirals into the reverse-Mamma-Mia plot. But that plot also leads to a rivals-at-an-internship plot, featuring a romantic subplot, and each of the potential mothers has a specific plot wrapped up in her as well. It is often overwhelming and hard to find what the actual goal is--for Millie as well as the reader. Overwhelming Plots

This biggest and most glaring problem with this book is that it ultimately overlooks the issue of abandonment. Millie was, quite literally, dumped on her father's doorstep as a newborn. Sure, she wants to find her mother. Of course she wants to find her mother, but that doesn't mean everything will or should be forgotten and forgiven. There's a wound here that isn't touched on in this book. It's brushed under the rug because of reasons, and that's not a good thing at all. Abandonment, even (and perhaps especially) as a newborn, has an effect, and that effect needs to be discussed. Overlooking Abandonment



Those looking for a world wrapped up in the arts like the one in Jen Larsen's The Big Reveal should check out this new up-and-coming Broadway star. Those who love a bit of tense romance set in NYC like Ben Philippe's Charming as a Verb should check out this new mortal-enemies-to-lovers subplot.


Publisher: Wednesday Books
Date: January 4, 2022
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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