December 27, 2021

#BookReview: You've Reached Sam by @Dustin_Thao

Synopsis: 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.


Rating: 4 Stars
My Review: This one devastated me!! I did feel like the chapters of the past just didn't fit in with the story.  I kind of skimmed those when they showed up.  I loved the present story though.  Losing someone is devastating and first love is so strong that when you lose it it can ruin your life like no other situation.  This one I cried so hard though almost all of the chapters.  The ending was powerful and I could not put it down.  This coming of age, learning to move on after a loss, and first love was just perfect in its telling.  (other than those pesky past chapters) If you want a good cry this is the book for you! 

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-When Sam dies in a car crash during his senior year of high school, his girlfriend, Julie, finds her life and the future plans they were supposed to share completely upended. She tries to forget Sam by avoiding his funeral and many memorials, and even goes as far as to throw away everything she had that was related to him. In a moment of desperation and regret, she dials his phone number, hoping to hear his voice on his outgoing message. But Sam answers the call. He is still dead, but because of a mysterious connection between their phones, they are able to speak to each other. As the story progresses, Julie buries her grief as she refuses to let go of Sam. It isn't until she realizes that she is hurting her friends and Sam's family by pulling away that she considers that the connection may not be entirely a good thing. Although an interesting exploration of grief, the slow pace and ambiguity of the situation, as well as the time it takes Julie to grow, make the story drag. Sam is Japanese, and cultural references and anti-Asian sentiment are incorporated deftly and sensitively. Secondary characters are diverse and unique, but there may have been too many for Thao to manage successfully. VERDICT While this is an interesting take on a person's struggle to let go of a lost loved one, there are better examples of books dealing with grief. An additional purchase.-Erica Deb, Matawan Aberdeen P.L., NJα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


"I knew full well that I was signing up for a tragic love story, and that's exactly what I got. So now I am here to warn you: This book will absolutely make you cry. Make sure you've got a box of tissues handy, and I mean a full box." 

"This young adult novel’s enthralling premise and gorgeous, manga-style cover art promise an emotional ride. Thao does not disappoint. You’ve Reached Sam punches directly in the chest during countless moments that hit right on target." ―Associated Press 

“You’ve Reached Sam is a hauntingly remarkable debut. Dustin Thao gently weaves grief, regret, second chances, and the honestly beautiful moments we carry from a first love. Every tear you will shed reading this book will be worth it." ―Julian Winters, award-winning author of Running With Lions

"If you like your contemporaries with a tiny piece of magic, this emotional YA is perfect for you." ―BuzzFeed 

"Thao skillfully marries a quiet, elegiac novel about grief with a provocative sf conceit. A poignant and moving read." ―Booklist

"Have your tissues at the ready when you dive into Dustin Thao's emotional novel You've Reached Sam." 

"The writing is captivating and beautifully done, immediately drawing readers into imaginative and well-developed scenes. [A] beautifully written exploration of grief... You’ve Reached Sam is an impactful debut. The question at the center of the book and the paranormal premise combine to create a narrative full of heart." ―The Young Folks

"A heart-breaking story of grief and loss, You've Reached Sam is a YA magical realism read about healing and moving on." ―Young Adult Books Central

"...this debut novel will draw readers in and shatter their hearts in the best way." ―Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"A heartfelt story about love, loss, and grief, Dustin Thao’s bittersweet novel You’ve Reached Sam will likely make you shed some tears." ―Culturess

"A touch of magic, first love and loss, this is the story of romance and heartache." ―SheReads

"You’ve Reached Sam is a quiet exploration of grief and the ways in which we cope with losing the ones we love too soon. If you’re in need of a good, cathartic crying session, this one’s for you!" ―The Nerd Daily

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