Review: You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

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Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.
Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.
And Sam picks up the phone.
In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.

I don’t often pick up books that I see as ‘TikTok books’, but the synopsis of this one (along with the beautiful hardback design and that cover) drew me in and I knew I wanted to pick it up. I actually read this one as an audiobook, and I really enjoyed the narration.

I was drawn in from the very start – this is such a sad but beautiful story following Julie after the death of her boyfriend, Sam. I was unsure where this book would go or how it would conclude, but I knew I’d enjoy the magical realism elements and some of the concept reminded me of Your Name, one of my favourite films.

Letting go isn’t about forgetting. 

The writing was definitely my favourite element of the book, which was poetic and beautiful. The group of friends was another part I loved, including Julie’s friendship with Oliver, which was a really joyous platonic relationship to read about. I found Julie’s grieving process believable (although obviously different due to her connection with Sam), and I liked reading about how she re-built a connection with Sam’s family.

This book does leave you with questions – but it’s a short, sweet and quite well formed. There was a few scenes towards the end, however, that I felt were slightly unneeded, including an argument between Julie and Sam.

It’s balancing moving forward with life, and looking back from time to time, remembering the people in it.

Overall, I did really enjoy reading this one even though it wasn’t quite perfect. Perhaps it would have made me more emotional if I’d have read the physical version, but I also didn’t cry, although I had tears in my eyes at the end of the book.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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