Cover Image: When You Get the Chance

When You Get the Chance

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Member Reviews

I was very excited when I could read this book in advance for free via NetGalley. Mainly the cover is what triggered my interest, it is so unapologetically queer that it had me reading the blurb quickly after! This book is advertised as a road trip to Toronto Pride, with everything being happy and queer! Well, that was not exactly what we got... 

Firstly, that roadtrip that I got so excited about? That takes up about 5% of the entire book. The story unfolds as Mark and Talia's grandpa passes away. Mark's mum and Talia's dad have been in a fight for years, which was also the reason why the cousins haven't visited the family holiday home in seven years. Grandma stood firm that they all needed to go back to the family cottage, with the intention for the two parents to reconcile. Then their parents have to visit the grandma unexpectantly, leaving Mark, Talia and Paige (Mark's little sister) on their own in the stay. This is where the drama starts.

We slowly get to know the three, and wow... I don't know if I have ever gotten to know two such incredibly self-centered, insufferable main characters. Both Mark and Talia spend the whole book acting so dumb, and complaining sooo so much, it's really exagerated. Talia is this Social Justice Warrior, to the extent that she annoyed the shit out of me sometimes. She was very very judgemental as well. She wasn't as bad as Mark though... Mark is extremely unlikeable. He was in a relationship with Jareth, but was not 'feeling it anymore'. But, because he thinks that 'they were never officially dating', he doesn't think it necessary to officially call things off. But throughout the book Jareth does keep sending messages, and Mark isn't bothered to reply. Like, YES you should let your boyfriend (even if things never got serious) know you don't want to date anymore. It is so unfair and manipulative to let Jareth linger like that, ew. He hides behind the excuse that 'Jareth should've gotten the hint by now'. Well, guess what, Jareth not getting the hint just means that you haven't made it clear enough. It is not Jareth's responisbility to get a hint of something he doesn't know that's going on. 

And this is just a beginning of Mark's insufferable behaviour. He is also transphobic, as he does not 'understand the whole 'they/them' pronoun thing'. He even said 'seems complicated, that's all'. Talia (our social justice warrior, who was dating a non-binary joyfriend) addresses the issue, after which Mark covers himself with saying 'I'm gay too, remember?'. This shows again how within the lgbtqia+ community there can be such vulgur comments as well. Identifying as queer does not excuse you from being homophobic or transphobic. 

These are just some examples of how excruciating it was to read about Mark. In short, he makes transphobic comments, is manipulative, a lier, arrogant, irresponsible and just a very plain character overall. 

But the actual issue I want to address here is how it feels like all the misgendering and homophobic or transphobic comments are inserted in the story JUST to have another character be able to call them out. There was so so much pointless homo/transphobia, that the book could've been better without. I get the authors want to get across that stuff like that is wrong, but the way they did it was terrible. The message were just so blunt, clearly in there as a message from the author to the reader, instead of being part of the storyline itself, to the point where it felt forced and unnatural. There's purposeful misgendering just for the sake of being able to correct it, this is just part of the problem. If you want to normalise they/them pronouns, then just have a character in the book with those pronouns. There is no need for misgendering, that will just be harmful to some readers. Normalise something by treating it as a non-issue, instead of this.

What was also addressed, again in quite an unnatural way, was bi-erasure. However forced it felt, it did spread the message. A teacher, Ms Taylor, was open about being bisexual. '*She talked to us about how she refused to be invisible as a queer person just because she was currently living with a man'.* 

I would've liked to see much more focus on the trip and Toronto Pride. The pride part was very visual, I loved reading about it, but it was infused with so much drama again that I couldn't enjoy it to its full potential. This book seemed pitched as a happy queer road trip, but ended up 1) being more drama than happiness, 2) having so much focus on homo/transphobia that queer joy wasn't central anymore and 3) not really being a road trip. 

Some positive notes

- I did really enjoy Paige, she was adorable!!
- However forced it felt, there was a lot of lgbtqia+ rep.
    - Gay main character
    - Sapphic main character
    - Pan nonbinary polyamorous love interest
    - Wlw and mlm side characters
- Some good humour!
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This is a great starting point for young readers looking to either learn about the queer experience through books or are queer themselves and looking to see themselves in the books they read. 

It's filled with pride and love and it's light and funny. 

My only issue was that I really did not like Mark for most of the book but that might have been more of a personal issue than anything else. He just pushed too many of my buttons and he's quiet self-centred and lazy. It was infuriating to read about him doing whatever he wanted while Talia did everything while actually struggling through a meaningful break-up. 

I really loved Talia though and the mystery surrounding why their parents don't talk anymore was enough to keep me reading.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’m always looking for family-centered stories and this absolutely delivered! This book is dual narrated and grapples with two cousins coming to terms with who they are and what they want, set against the backdrop of a family upheaval. It was a quick read and one I would recommend to a younger audience as a great book for starting discussions about queer identity!
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Honestly this was a great book about Pride and queer kids but the problem is that I thought Mark, one of the two main characters, was such a jerk and I just couldn’t stand him. He kind of do better at the end because this story is also about self growth, but for most of the time I kinda wanted to punch him so that was not very enjoyable. I didn’t really get attached to any character but I simply adored the moments where they were at Pride, it was simply magical, it made me want to be there with them.
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I received this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review!

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED When you get the chance! This book is funny, cute and an immersive and quick read!! I basically devoured it!

Mark is seventeen, gay and lives in Halifax. He's an athlete and a bit self-absorbed, thinking about having fun and avoid responsibilities. Talia is queer, she's lives in Victoria and she's stubborn and a social justice warrior (sometimes she could be a bit annoying, but I love her passion and strength!). Mark and Talia are cousins, but they haven't seen each other in years after a big fight between their parents and even though they spent their summer in the family lake cottage, when they meet again for their granfather's funeral they are strangers.
Having to deal with the cottage, cleaning it out while their parents (Mark's mum and Talia's dad are brother and sister) decide what to do with it, Talia, Mark and Paige, Mark's ten years old sister, find themselves in a journey made of memories and misteries, like why their parents stopped talking. 
But when a family emergency leave them alone at the cottage, Mark and Talia, who beside being queer have nothing in common, discover they both want to be at the Toronto Pride and, using their Grandma's old car, with Paige in tow, decide to go there.
Mark wants to have fun, Talia wants to understand where she and her high school sweetheart stand and the Toronto Pride is perfect for them.
Between new friendships, discoveries, luck and unluck, will they reach Toronto and find what are they looking for?

When we get the chance is funny, sweet and I really liked it. Told by two POVs, Talia's and Mark's, the reader is able to follow their problems, issues, desires and fears. The way they are written is incredibly realistic.. They messed up, they seem selfish and self-absorbed, annoying, loyal, brilliant, stubborn, loving, exactly as a human being would be, so they are really relatable. They are teenagers, they rage, they make mistakes, they look for something, they want to have fun and find their own place in the world.
A funny and brilliant surprise is Mark's sister, Paige, who seems so much older than her ten years old. A Nancy Drew, interested in the family history and mystery, with her head always in a book (amazing when she's reading Magnus Chase) and I love her relationship with Mark and how she is so funny and outspoken.
I liked reading about Babs and Shirley, Jeremy and his uncles and their friends. It was so brilliant and heartwarming thinking about their queer community, their history, past and present.
Reading about the pride was immersive and brilliant and it brought tears to my eyes. 

When we get the chance is a book about family, love, friendship, pride and connection with new and reconnection with old people. I love the way, in few days, the characters connect, change and start to build something for themselves and their future.
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I think I overall liked this book and the story kept me interested until the end. I was really excited to read it because of the family themes and the queer cousins as main characters! "Road trip to Pride" was also a pretty good selling point. But I must admit that I was a bit disappointed by this read. Not because of the writing being bad, not because the description was misleading (it actually summarize the story pretty well!) but because Mark, one of the two main characters, is a self-centered young guy that kept getting on my nerves. 

So "When You Get the Chance" is a book written with a dual POV, which allows our two main characters, Mark and Talia, to share the spotlight throughout the story. Talia is only a year older than her cousin Mark but these two have truly nothing in common appart the fact that they're queer. And even their knowledge on sexual and gender identities aren't on the same level, which was interesting to see.

Talia is a queer young woman in a 3 year relationship with her non-binary partner with whom she'd founded her high school's GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) while Mark is a gay high school student and soccer player who has kind of a "friends with benefits" relationship with a guy called Jareth, who seems to believe they are boyfriends (Mark doesn't bother correcting him and only ignores him).

I really empathized with Talia and what she was going through. To me she was the best character of this book because of her developement and the emotions we were allowed to see her experience. Her relationship with her dad was also a very refreshing one. I had never read a book with a father supportive of her queer daughter before. Her discussions with her cousin Paige (Mark's 10 year old little sister) about gender and "outing" were also pretty good ! I think everyone reading this book will like Paige's character.

Now the other main character, Mark, a young gay man, is the opposite of Talia. He made me sigh, shake my head and metaphorically fume. Mark is very self-centered. This is something we learn about him only a few minutes into the book because his main thoughts as he is flying to Toronto with his mother and little sister, for his grandfather's funeral, are about Toronto's Pride. That sets the tone for the rest of the book. Mark doesn't really evolve much throughout the story. There is some progress at the end but that's the issue right here : it only happens at the end. I might have enjoyed this story much more if I could have felt some positive emotions towards Mark before the last chapters. Mark's character is realistic : he is a teenager, almost a young adult, who really embodies young men's entitlement. I didn't like him and it annoyed me to read about him.

In conclusion I can only give this book 3/5 stars because Mark ate the other 2 !
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One of my new favorites, this book does a wonderful job of painting the picture of everything going on. You grow to know the characters like a close friend and end up wishing the story would never end
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This book was incredibly and unapologetically queer and that's what I was really wanting out of this book so at least in that, the book lived up to what I was looking for. I enjoyed how the book explored the different facets and shades of queer, how not everyone approaches and experiences it the same way. it was nice to read a book that just sprinkled the gay around heartily instead of how so much media these days tends to be more sparing. there are so many books and shows where you run into the token problem in which you just get one or two queer characters and then the creators called it good. I was happy to read a story that didn't have that approach. That being said, I definitely connected with Talia more, I was more engaged in her story and her point of view, Mark not so much. I had difficulty connecting with him. iN the beginning, he was very vapid and callous and inconsiderate and I knew that it was very likely the book would involve him growing or changing for that but it was difficult for me to get through. I found myself more interested in his little sister Paige when reading the chapters from his perspective, She was great.
The book, on the whole, was a bit of a slow read. There was the mystery of why the parents weren't talking anymore but it was not exactly the type of intrigue to really grab me. I will say that I appreciated that it was a queer story that wasn't about coming out and focused more on other aspects of queerdom as well as familial and platonic relationships. It wasn't the most compelling read and dragged in a few places but I enjoyed it for what it was.
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I love the diversity! Obviously, representation is important regardless of how you identify, and this book checks a lot of those boxes for me. I like the writing. It wasn't overly descriptive and the pacing was nic.e. Nothing about this book really struck me as 'wow', but nothing about it was bad. Maybe I'll give it a few months and then reread and reevaluate. Just because this isn't the book for me doesn't mean it won't be the book for you. I'd give it a go!
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This book has been on my radar for quite a while and the moment I saw the cover I really wanted to read this. I just love how queer this is and the skyline of Toronto in the background as well as the blurb only added to my already high expectations. If you ask me the world needs more covers like that and I’d be happy to buy them all. This said, the most important question is: Did “When You Get the Chance” live up to my expectations or not?

Truth be told, this isn’t as easy to answer as some might think. The beginning of this book was pretty slow and about half of the book deals with their stay at the family cottage. It’s only about the 50% mark that things actually start to get interesting when they finally hit the road. From there on out I really enjoyed their journey though and I think Tom Ryan did a great job at capturing the spirit of Pride. The feeling of being a part of all those people, of the respect, acceptance, support and safety they offer. It felt like I was there along with them and made new friends while we walked the streets of Toronto. 

Another thing I truly appreciated was the diversity we got to see in this book. Mark is gay, Talia is a lesbian or pan (she’s questioning her sexual orientation because she dated Erin who is non-binary) and of course there are a lot of other queer characters as well. ;-) Speaking of the characters themselves I can’t say that I connected with any of them. Well, none except of Paige! Mark’s ten years old little sister is such a ray of sunshine and I swear she was the best character in the entire book! I loved how she saw the world and tried to understand it and I absolutely adored her stance on being queer. For her it was so normal to have a brother who’s gay and gosh how I want more people like that in the world. Ten year old Paige gave me hope in humanity and I can’t thank Tom Ryan enough for that!! For me she represented a generation that grew up with LGBTQ+ rights and accepts everyone who’s under the rainbow and I really hope that one day we’ll actually get there. =) Still, there was a moment when one of the MCs got outed by Paige and I was very glad this issue was broached and challenged. No one should out you except of yourself! 

As for Mark and Talia?! Mark might have been outgoing but he was also self-centred and more than just a little egoistic! I couldn’t with him and even though some of his actions later on in the book obviously tried to redeem him, I really can’t say that I liked his embodiment of the entitled white male. Then again I’ve to admit that it was good to have a character like Mark in this book, because quite honestly not everyone can be a sweet fluffy cinnamon roll and the world is made of more complex characters than that. ;-) Talia on the other hand, was the complete opposite of Mark and more on the calm and distant side of things. Whilst Mark didn’t seem to care about deep feelings and only wanted fun, Talia was a very deep and emotional character who had difficulties to accept that her partner had changed without her at their side. 

I could probably go on and on about this book but I think I’ll leave it at that. The only thing that truly bothered me was that the characters apparently had no decency regarding their situation. I mean their grandfather just died and their grandma ended up in hospital; you’d think they would have thought about other things than the fastest way to pride. I suppose some of their behaviour could be explained by them being teens and having no tangible idea of the concept of mortality, but even then I would have felt bad for my actions if I’d have been in their shoes. (I felt really sorry for Talia’s dad and Mark’s mom.)

Regardless of everything I just mentioned this was still a fast and enjoyable read. Sure, there were some important topics that were only brought up but never truly addressed, since this book had only 272 pages I had no problem to overlook those little weaknesses though. There’s only so much you can put into a 250+ pages book and considering this Tom Ryan actually did a good job! All told this leaves me with 3,5 stars rounded up to 4 and the hope that my next Tom Ryan book will be another pleasant read.
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This was a complicated book for me. For me, personally, the problem stemmed from the fact that the characters themselves just weren’t incredibly likable. Mark, especially, was a chore from page to page, but the reason for my rating is because I did enjoy watching his growth from beginning to end. Talia was easier to like, but even she had some odd quirks I found myself frowning at (there’s a comment about vegans in there somewhere).

However, I did enjoy the basic plot. I definitely enjoyed the side characters (well, aside from the ones we weren’t supposed to like). Overall, I would say I enjoyed pretty much a lot of this book…except for the point where I’d loop back to Mark and Talia. Given they are the main characters…but like I said, they do improve! Mark, especially. By the end I wasn’t sighing anytime either of them said something, and I closed the book feeling overall satisfied with their arcs and the end the book brought them to.

I do think a large part of this might simply be I am not the age demographic for this book, and I did notice some typos (at one point a character was misgendered and I’m 100% sure it was a typo, not the character deliberately being a jerk. Which option is worse, I leave to you), but at the end of the day this was still a fun, easy read that I enjoyed for what it was.
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It is very hard to come across a read that leaves you speechless. I was not sure what to expect when I started this novel but it took me to places I cannot even begin to tell you. 
I cannot wait for this beauty to be released to the world so others can have a similar experience.
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Special shoutout to Running Press Kids for providing me with an ARC via NetGalley.

In 2019 I happened to read Keep This to Yourself by Tom Ryan and was instantly enthralled by the story, so when I saw that he was co-authoring this book with Robin Stevenson I was immediately excited. The promise of roadtrip and familiar bonding and being queer I was sold.

Overall the book is definitely enjoyable and very easy to get through. Despite the fact that I put off picking it up for a long time, when I actually got around to reading it I was able to get through it in about a day. In part because it was so easy to get through I think that it also became quickly apparent the things about the book that I wasn’t the biggest fan of, or didn’t feel quite worked. As much as I liked Mark and Talia as narrators, the first half of the book that is mostly set at the cottage wasn’t all that enjoyable. While Paige’s eagerness to solve the case of the honorary Tremblay sibling in a lot of ways it was also just not something I was invested in, it’s also a larger portion of the book I’d argue than any of the roadtrip or real familial bonding moments.

It’s hard to judge family bonding in books because everyone is going to read that kind of thing differently based on their own experiences. For me I never felt there was a closeness between Mark and Talia. Even after the first fifty percent was done with and they were on their way to Toronto for the Pride weekend it was still just two people who wanted to be in the same location and were getting there. Even at Pride when Mark finds Talia just after she’s broken up with Erin it doesn’t really read as them being close? I dunno, there was something off about it. I never really felt that they hated each other, even as Talia spent the first half of the book annoyed with her cousin, but I never really felt that there was a moment where they connected? If anything Paige always felt more like the glue that was holding them and the book together. I’m not quite sure that the book could exist without her. I’ll also say that while the mystery of the honorary Tremblay was solved in a rather mundane fashion, it was also the part of the familial discord that I thought was the most melodramatic moment of the book. Maybe that’s a thing that people experience, but seeing as that had more to do with the adults of the story maybe I was just expecting too much from them.

There’s also a vague throughline of Mark cheating throughout the book. It’s adressed in the text, so definite kudos for that, but I also never quite understood what it was that Mark was looking for. I sort of got the vibe that Mark was looking for a good time and not a long itme, but between his desire for Darren to be his boyfriend and then planning his future with Jeremy I couldn’t tell you why things with Jareth never worked out. Which is fine, while the romantic entanglements of both of our narrators are front and center in terms of their personal issues the book makes no illusions about this being a romcom. I just never understood how Mark was approaching his love l

I’ve said this a couple times already, but just so that it’s that much more clear, Paige was truly my favorite character in the book. Without her I’m not sure I could have finished or enjoyed it as much as I did.

I would ultimately recommend this book. I think that for other readers, younger teen readers they will get something out of this that I ultimately didn’t. The positive experience I had reading the book makes up for some of the underwhelming nature I found with how the narratice actually unfolded.
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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.
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Let’s focus on the narrators first. This book is narrated by two people – cousins. One’s Mark, and the other Talia (whose name I forgot for a few seconds. I only remembered Mark’s because his is on a Note on my Kindle as my Notes are currently pulled up). And I felt both narrators were pretty boring. I liked Talia a tiny bit more, but that was it.

I mean, Mark, to me, felt so self-centered and boring and privileged and just, sorry, but boring again. Like instead of helping around the house he decides to have fun. He should’ve paid more attention to Paige, seriously. He tries to act funny but it just fails. Talia, while the (slight) better of the two narrator, tries to act like she’s awkward and cool at the same time and it only makes her look more awkward and not in that cool type of way. While she is very proud of her identity, and she can most certainly be, it just felt like she was pushing all her ideas and opinions onto other people and trying to make them think like her. And people don’t feel the same way and that’s okay!

I love this cover so much. The font’s super cool, the rainbow road and the car, all so great. But… that’s about it. The third star is solely for the cover. Paige is mostly the reason why I didn’t star it lower – she was at least funny, adorable, and she reads Magnus Chase so ☝🏻☝🏻

The way the chapters just end. There are good ways to end a chapter, then there are bad ways, and then there are just… ways. I know I’m not making sense – but to me the endings of the chapters didn’t make sense? Like there’s still meant to be another paragraph but there isn’t – because it’s the end of the chapter.

And I’m sorry if I sound old and all – but the WAY they get to Toronto and eventually Pride is SO UNSAFE in a big, HUGE way and it just further annoys me with how teens are written in regards to how they treat their parents. Like?? They just swear in front of their parents with no repercussions? They do this thing where they just go out and don’t tell their parents? My parents had to have at least two of my friends’ phone numbers and if we were going other places, I had to message them about it. And Mark and Talia tell their parents nothing and they’re not even stressed about it?

And the parents?? Don’t even get me started on how much they annoyed me. So, this ‘big thing’ happened when their kids were younger (can’t talk about it too much as it’ll be a spoiler) – but to me it wasn’t such a big thing – and they decide to not speak to each other for a whole bunch of years??? Have they not seen Parent Trap?

The plots. Well, there were plots. That’s about it. Like literally. I already spoke about the parents and the Pride and I just felt very let down by both.

As much as I really wanted to give it 2 stars, I decided to give it 3 stars (the third star was literally for the cover alone). And when it comes down to it, this can be an important book for readers. Just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean other readers won’t absolutely love it to bits. And that’s perfectly okay. I loved the cover and the Pride scenes and moments with all the casually queer characters – that’s great. But it wasn’t enough to distract me from the subpar plots and shoddy characters.
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This is a VERY gay book, and I am very here for it! Also: Can I just say how happy I am to finally read a gay book about gays NOT SET IN THE US??? 

This has a lot of needed representation for non-straight people,  showing how gays come in all different forms! The very first example of this is the two main characters. Both Mark and Talia are gay/queer, but they could not be different. Mark is an athletic, extroverted, and privileged gay dude that has not really had any bad experiences connected to his sexuality. He's not very informed of the whole world of non-straight-ness, as many people are! Talia, on the other hand, is dating a non-binary partner and is all social justice warrior at many instances in this book, for example explaining how one should not "out" someone to others at several moments in this. We also meet a lot of different people when they finally get to Pride, and I can really relate to one of the things in the novel where one of them thinks that they have never really met any older couples that have been together for a long time. Like, I could talk about the perfect amount of representation in this for days!!!!

Although the first 30-40% of this book drags on a little, I am very happy I have read this book! It was much gayer than I anticipated, and I am so happy. I also love how this is very coming-of-age, and explores how for many people their sexuality can be confusing and be a life-long mission to really figure out. It is very hopeful and a nice read! I will be purchasing this book for myself, and I will 100% recommend this!
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ARC provided by Running Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When You Get The Chance is the heart-warming, unapologetically queer, conjoint work of Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson. A story of personal growth and change that fills my queer heart with happiness. It shows how unique the queer experience is and the beauty of the rainbow community.

An unfortunate event reunites cousins Mark and Talia in Toronto, during Pride Week, after almost ten years of not seeing each other. Talia is a reserved, teetotal straight-A student who’s currently dealing with relationship problems; while Mark is a self-centred, party-loving, blunt and confident soccer player. One thing they have in common is their queerness, but that is not enough to restore their childhood friendship.

This story is so full of loveable, audacious characters that a reader cannot prevent themselves from loving. For me, though, the clear standout is Paige, Mark’s younger sister, a ten-year old, vivacious kid, unafraid to ask questions, open to new realities and notions about the world.
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It’s hard not to fall in love with this novel, especially if you’re proudly queer and proudly Canadian. 

While the writing style is simple, I found that it actually adds to the story by not bogging you down in unnecessary expansive vocabulary. It made the read much more enjoyable and fun. 

I’ve been to some Pride events but have always wanted to experience Toronto Pride. Reading this book made it feel like I was there and a part of the fun. A great Summer read, for sure.

Source: I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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3.75 stars, rounded up to 4 stars.

So listen. I have mixed feelings about this book.

Even though it is advertised as a roadtrip novel, for me it was definitely a family novel first, a queer novel second and a coming of age novel third. And then maybe there is a little bit about roadtrip in there, but since the trip itself wasn't very long, I'd put the other themes on the forefront.

A big theme of the book is figuring out why Mark's (MC1) mum and Talia's (MC2) dad are not on speaking terms. They haven't seen each other for years and are only forced to come together when Mark and Talia's granddad dies and they're all flying to Toronto for the funeral and to figure out how to deal with their grandma. One big issue is the cottage that the grandparents kept three hours away from Toronto for summer vacations and the families respectively go up there to decide what to do with the cottage, now that the grandma isn't physically able to keep it up anymore.

Only a day later, the parents have to go back to their mother's side as she's been admitted to a hospital after a fall, leaving the kids in charge of the cottage for now. Mark is devastated that they take both cars which means that he won't have a way to go to Toronto pride and Talia is devastated because she can't visit her partner? Ex partner? Erin who also works in Toronto. Eventually, they find a way though and the three kids make their way to Toronto without their parents knowledge.

What was a little irritating to me was the total lack of grief from the two teenagers about their grandfather. While they do say it is sad about him dying and that they feel bad, it doesn't seem to last very long because they are quickly preoccupied with other things, namely Mark flirting with a local guy and Talia hoping that her partner of two years, with whom she doesn't know where they stand at that point, would text.

Additionally, I didn't immediately connect with either of the main characters and was rooting most for Mark's little sister Paige who was not only supportive of her queer family members but was putting on her best detective face to try and figure out why their parent's aren't on speaking terms anymore.

I was also a huge fan of the lesbian couple the kids hitch a ride with to Toronto and about the exchange of terms and experiences between these queer generations.

I did warm up to both Mark and Talia in the course of the novel, mainly because both seem more and more selfconscious and willing to learn and to better themselves whenever they get called out on being insensitive. I really did feel that there was a character development for both of them, which I really loved seeing. Mark grew way less obnoxious and Talia seemed a little freer in her thinking about both what others thought of her and more importantly, what she wanted from her life. I got the feeling that only at the end of the novel, Talia let herself really explore what she wants from the next couple of years not out of obligation to a partner or her dad but for her and I loved seeing it.

There is a lot of queer representation in this book. While not being queer myself, I kept having the opinions of various friend's in my head while reading about especially the trans and poly rep and I know that they wouldn't have been too fond of it so I felt myself being not too fond of it. But that is all I am going to say on that matter since I felt like there was a lot of diversity in here which I loved and I am going to let people who identify with the various sexualities and gender identities judge how well the rep was done apart from that. However I do have one friend who resembles Talia a lot in their thinking about queerness and sexuality and I couldn't help but smile whenever Talia lectured someone (mostly Mark) on the importance of accepting and embracing other people for who they are :)

All in all, I really liked this book and read it within a day. It was a feel-good novel and I realise that I have been really nitpicky with my critisism here, which you will have realised by now because I gave this a rounded up to 4 rating which means that I must've liked it a lot. My point is: It is a lovely novel and a feel good read and I recommend it to... literally anyone who is into contemporary YA fiction. It's got heart, soul, a lot of Canadian charm and it takes you to a Pride Event as if you were really there. Really Fab.
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There were a lot of things about When You Get the Chance that annoyed me while reading. I was annoyed that it was billed as a road trip novel when the actual road trip(s) took up so little of the book. I was annoyed that both main characters were insufferable to a point where I couldn't bring myself to root for them, and then barely changed over the course of their respective character arcs.

My main problem with this book, though, was the spotty queer rep. There were some things that I felt this book got totally right, such as Mark occupying the nebulous space of white gay men who still experience hatred and oppression but are also privileged in ways they don’t always see themselves, or Talia’s confusion over her potentially shifting understanding of her identity, especially in relation to her ex’s. But her ex’s identity is where my problems with this book really started.

Erin’s identity in this book is a mess, mostly because we see it through Talia’s point of view only and we never hear much about what Erin thinks themself. The implication that they stopped being a lesbian when they came out as nonbinary, for example, is something that deserves more discussion because for many people (me) those things aren’t mutually exclusive and that’s already poorly understood as it is. Their polyamorous identity and their pansexual identity are also heavily linked to Talia feeling as if she’s being deceived and lied to and while this is pointed out, it’s never really challenged throughout Talia’s character arc. Obviously Talia’s just a teenager and she doesn’t have to have everything figured out for herself, even throughout the course of this book, but it would be nice if the book at least landed in a place where her incorrect and/or harmful ideas were explored more thoroughly instead of just left hanging.

Honestly, there are a lot of really compelling discussions about nuanced identities and contemporary vs. historical queer communities and things like that that are presented in the novel, but never really explored beyond Talia’s annoying “gotcha” moments, which to me makes them seem like petty SJW internet issues instead of real conversations we should be having.
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