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  • Writer's pictureTabitha Tomala

You've Reached Sam by Duston Thao Book Review

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You've Reached Sam by Dustin Thao book cover
You've Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

Book Review

Julie and Sam have planned everything. Where they will live, where they will go to college, and all the little details that go into building a future. But the night Sam dies in a car accident, Julie gives up all hope for any future without Sam. Drowning in grief, Julie refuses to attend his funeral and sets herself on a path to forget everything. Until one night Julie calls Sam, desperate to hear his voice once more. And he picks up.

You’ve Reached Sam has the potential to be a powerful story about overcoming the loss of a loved one. And at the start of the novel, I loved the concept of Sam and Julie maintaining their connection beyond the grave. But the emotional connection wasn’t always present for me. Julie’s relationship with Sam is shown through flashbacks and moments where Sam and Julie reminisce over the phone. I wish there had been more of a foundation for their relationship. Watching the slow build-up of love and the sudden loss of it would have made a heavier impact.

However, the repercussions of Julie missing Sam’s funeral and the subsequent memorials for him made a huge impact on the story. Every character who had a connection to the couple shared their various opinions on Julie’s actions. And many in their own grief mistook her suffering as negligence. Witnessing Julie navigate through her various relationships and struggle to come to terms with her impact on them was complex and well done.

Sam’s phone calls showed firsthand how Julie was in denial over his death. How she wanted so desperately to never lose him. But the magical realism of the phone calls didn’t follow the flow of the story. It wasn’t just Julie’s progression through grief influencing them. Sharing her secret seemed to have the greater impact. Each time she gave a piece of her secret conversation away, it became harder to reach out to Sam. And yet Julie wasn’t moving forward to closure as quickly as the phone calls were. The ending left me wanting for more, and wishing for a tidier closure.

If you are looking to see if this type of fiction is right for you, pick up You’ve Reached Sam. It does not go as deeply into the stages of grief as some other YA novels, and you’ll be able to see if it is something you’d like to continue reading.

To Purchase: Bookshop | Author's Website

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