*A huge thank you to NetGalley and “Perseus Books, Running Press” for providing a free ARC*
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 paws rounded up to 4 and the hope that my next Tom Ryan book will be another pleasant read.