Reviews

Arc Review: You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao πŸ’” Grief and Heartbreak

Arc Review You've Reached Sam

Goodreads – Amazon  β€“ Book Depository

CW’s: Death/Grief, Car Accident

Representation 🌷 Japanese Love Interest, Grief

If I Stay meets Your Name in this heartfelt novel about love, loss, and what it means to say goodbye.

Expected Publication: November 2nd 2021

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned outβ€”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.

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Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review! All quotes are taken from the Arc and subject to changes.

β€œ’I wish I could tell him one last thing’. Then he [Oliver] turns to me. ‘Do you think about that? About what you would say to Sam, if you had one more chance?'”

You’ve Reached Sam was a fantastic book about grief and moving on. It follows the story of Julie, who just lost her boyfriend to a tragic accident and never got the chance to say Goodbye. She’s in a low place mentally, avoiding everything connected to Sam and feeling isolated and blamed by her peers. Then Julie gets the chance to talk to Sam again when she calls his phone. I’m usually cautious about magical twists, but this was well-executed, giving us some information about what made it work. It still stayed vague when it came to specifics, though this is inherent to the trope and I’d recommend the book if you can suspend belief about these types of plot twists. Personally, I think the fact that Julie could talk to Sam again after parting in a fight was a great way to shape her journey of grieving him. No one else knows that she can talk to him again and Julie struggles with this dichotomy in how she and Sam’s friends approach losing him. Sam soon becomes her lifeline and gives her hope, but Julie is also holding back on truly embracing her grief as long as she still has this connection. The book did a great job showing the fine line between trying to move on by forgetting who you lost and clinging to them without being able to move on yourself. A big theme is how to let someone go without forgetting them and it was beautifully shown through Julie’s own Arc and grief. I also liked that the story showed how people grieve in different ways. Julie definitely could be unlikable at times, making frustrating choices, but you could tell where she is coming from and how the hurricane of her emotions made it hard to hold on to her connections with others and easier to just let herself go.

β€œI know your time with Sam was much shorter than you wanted it to be, but that time together isn’t something you can give back. Letting go isn’t about forgetting. It’s balancing moving forward with life, and looking back from time to time, remembering the people in it.”

The book is slower and more character-driven, yet I flew through it. This is a more reflective, introspective book focused on Julie’s relationship with Sam, her dealing with grief and life without him. We get snippets of their time together and also have a great cast of secondary characters. Julie’s not the best at staying connected to her friends, but the group of exchange students she’s close with really try to be there for her, even when Sam’s other friends blame her for how she is grieving and acting. I especially liked seeing Julie’s relationship with Sam’s best friend Oliver, who she used to be rivals with but can now connect to, as he knows what she lost. Another highlight of the book was Sam’s cousin Mika, who is another friend Julie struggles to stay connected to, as she hasn’t been the most available and keeps pushing people away. From her high school friends to her bookstore colleague Tristan and her relationship with her Mom, the book did a great job portraying all kinds of connections, though the book focuses more on Julie’s inner journey. I was fully invested in the story, as there were such high emotional stakes and you could feel the pain, longing and heartbreak Julie goes through. If you’ve ever lost someone and weren’t able to say Goodbye this will hit extra hard πŸ’”

β€œBut the truth is, no one experiences grief the same way, and we all come out of it differently.”

IN CONCLUSION. ➽ You’ve Reached Sam was a more slow-paced character-driven story about a girl who loses her boyfriend and only stays connected to him through their phones. The story did a fantastic job discussing grief, moving on and staying connected to others even if it’s hard. This story feels like it goes out to anyone who wonders what would have happened if they had one last chance to talk to the one they loved and lost.

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Are you going to read You’ve Reached Sam? What a book that broke your heart/made you cry? πŸ’”

7 thoughts on “Arc Review: You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao πŸ’” Grief and Heartbreak

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