Inspired by Mamma Mia!, When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord is a soothing coming-of-age tale that transcends the iconic ABBA jukebox romance into a passionate love letter for musical theatre fans.
The melodic novel follows Millie Price, a Broadway-star hopeful, who is determined to find her birth mother after a spat with her father leaves the teen earning to meet the woman that shares her love for the stage. With her search narrowed to three candidates based in New York, Millie infiltrates their lives to uncover the truth — and unknowingly finds herself in the process.
The author infuses the iconic paternal mystery with a fresh new protagonist that is unflinchingly brave and driven by earnest mood swings. Millie’s over-the-top outlook on the world has meaningful depth thanks to a scrambling internal monologue and mental health struggle that anchors her quest to find her mother in something a little more tangible than this cheery premise would suggest. Packed with so many rewarding threads to follow, the mystery of Millie’s mother has the opportunity to sneak up on readers.
And the romance, oh boy! An enemies-to-lovers trope with meaningful self-reflection and one hectic summer internship rounds out this super fun read. The chemistry between Millie and her high-school rival echoes a development that feels organic for two people forced to transcend petty comebacks for the first time in their teenage existence. There’s an authentic maturing to their young love that does not lend negatively to the oversaturation of this trope.
This sweet jaunt through the streets of New York City bottles the highs of chasing one’s dreams and the passion for performing arts to create a whimsical whirlwind read that thrives entirely on its adorableness.
Even so, Lord’s reads never seem to sacrifice sweet for insufferable storytelling. This book may inhabit a perfect version of the big city where everyone is sickeningly upbeat vessels of friendship and soulmates are just falling from the sky, but the story is hardly candy-coated fluff. Instead, the author grounds Millie’s perfect world in an integrated family dynamic between father-daughter and the found family she encounters throughout her search.
The plot of Lord’s books is always precise, taking the reader from point A to point B with a full-circle journey for the protagonist, a fulfilling ending, and the expert tying of loose ends. It makes the fluffiest of her teen romps a rich and rewarding experience for anyone looking for a light read that delivers dimension. The atmosphere of Millie’s story is no different, pumping readers with a fuzzy warm feeling of whimsey thanks to its adorable cast of angsty teens and smorgasbord of Broadway references.
If you, like me, struggle to embrace theater, the author’s passion for the subject will still pull you in. And if you love Broadway, Mamma Mia! references, and the glam of show business, then you will thrive within the pages of this tale. When You Get the Chance offers quick and effortless escapism with no strings attached. It’s arguably the perfect book to cleanse your palate of the bitter aftertaste that was 2021.
When you get the chance to read this one, definitely do it. You won’t be disappointed to start your year off on such a wholesome note.
And if you yearn for even more teenage shenanigans and light romps through New York City, put Emma Lord on your instant-read list. Tweet Cute stands as one of my favorite reads in recent memory with its mouthwatering dive into the fast-food industry through the messy beef of Twitter feuds. Then there’s You Have a Match, a fun reimagining of The Parent Trap. Lord certainly knows how to craft a good teen trope, and she is very open about her passion for Spider-Man memes and writing fanfiction.
So if you’re looking for a new author obsession this year, look no further.
When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord is available now.