Title: When You Get the Chance
Author: Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Release Date: May 4, 2021
Page Length: 384
Age Range: YA
Rating: 4 ⭐
Goodreads Synopsis: Follow cousins on a road trip to Pride as they dive into family secrets and friendships in this contemporary YA novel — perfect for fans of David Levithan and Becky Albertalli.
As kids, Mark and his cousin Talia spent many happy summers together at the family cottage in Ontario, but a fight between their parents put an end to the annual event. Living on opposite coasts — Mark in Halifax and Talia in Victoria — they haven’t seen each other in years. When their grandfather dies unexpectedly, Mark and Talia find themselves reunited at the cottage once again, cleaning it out while the family decides what to do with it.
Mark and Talia are both queer, but they soon realize that’s about all they have in common, other than the fact that they’d both prefer to be in Toronto. Talia is desperate to see her high school sweetheart Erin, who’s barely been in touch since leaving to spend the summer working at a coffee shop in the Gay Village. Mark, on the other hand, is just looking for some fun, and Toronto Pride seems like the perfect place to find it.
When a series of complications throws everything up in the air, Mark and Talia — with Mark’s little sister Paige in tow — decide to hit the road for Toronto. With a bit of luck, and some help from a series of unexpected new friends, they might just make it to the big city and find what they’re looking for. That is, if they can figure out how to start seeing things through each other’s eyes.
Thank you to Tom Ryan, Robin Stevenson and Running Press Kids for providing me with an eARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
It was nice to read a book based where I grew up. It was also jarring at times (trying to figure out where that one place is, being confused why the place you grew up is in the middle of nowhere when it isn’t lol). The characters were well written. I loved Talia, but honestly couldn’t stand Mark. Talia felt more down to earth, smart, and responsible – someone I could actually see me getting along with. Mark, on the other hand, drove me insane with his over cocky, jock personality. He did get a nice story arc, but I will not praise the guy for doing the right thing – the thing he should have done from the start!
This book made me wish I could stand large crowds and head down to the Toronto Pride Parade. It seems like it would be amazing to see. So inviting and supportive for EVERY type of sexual or gender identity. This book didn’t set out to teach you about them either. There were a couple of instances where Talia would explain identity and outing to Mark’s little sister, but it made sense in the scenario – it doesn’t come off preachy or condescending though.
I also liked that this book wasn’t a coming out or exploring sexuality story – which feels like most YA LGBTQIA+ books seem to be (at least that I’ve read). This story is just a slice of life story that happens to feature two Queer main characters (as well as secondary characters). This is a fun read that any contemporary lover would enjoy reading.