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You’ve Reached Sam – Dustin Thao

Thank you so much to the publishers for sending me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

How do you move forward when everything you love in on the line?

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. 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.

What would you do if you had a second chance at goodbye?

You’ve Reached Sam is a book that I have seen so much hype about online which of course means I want to give this book a read. I did go into this book with quite high hopes because of this though. Although my hopes were not quite met, I did thoroughly enjoy this book and wanted to share my thoughts.

It was the premise of this book that originally drew me in. The idea of being able to contact someone close to you, who has passed away, took my interest because I’m sure so many of us would be grateful for that opportunity. Also, the beautiful cover of this book helped peak my interest and made me want to read this book even more.

The way that this book tackles grief and the different ways it can affect people is beautiful. Please take care when reading this book as it does not tackle grief lightly. It shows the good and bad sides of losing someone close to you and does not shy away from the details. of this I feel this book really explores grief in a beautiful and important way.

I found it so interesting the idea of being able to have a second chance to say goodbye to a loved one. Julie does not get the chance to say goodbye to Sam due to the way in which he dies. Seeing Julie have that second chance was incredible insightful. I enjoyed the sections of the book where we got to see Julie and Sam talk to one another and how Sam helped Julie to deal with her grief. 

I would have loved to see more about why Julie got the second chance to speak to Sam. Obviously, this is a magical realism element that is added into this book but isn’t fully explored. There are some things about Julie’s phone not working properly throughout the book that never really gets discussed or answered fully and I would have loved to see that explored. A bit more explanation around the magical realism element is something I would have appreciated.

Julie is a main character of this book, who at times I loved reading about and others I found quite uninteresting.  Julie is going through a lot, having just lost her boyfriend and we see that in so many ways. I would loved to have found out just a little bit more about her though and her likes and dislikes. Her personality seems to surround Sam most of the time and we do not get the opportunity to see who she really is.

Sam seemed like such a lovely character. Obviously, we only find out about him throughout flashbacks and the phone calls with Julie. I loved those parts of the book as it is an insight into a character we would not usually have seen. I would have loved the opportunity to see more of Sam before his death and that may have helped me to love his character more. By doing this as readers we would have seen more about their relationship and why that made them who they are. As well as appreciate the relationship that him and Julie had. Also, I loved the side characters in this book, they are quite possibly my favourite part of the book. Mika and Oliver in particular are just excellent characters who I loved reading about. It was interesting to see how the grief of losing Sam affected them too.

Dustin Thao has written a stunning story that I throughly enjoyed and would highly recommend. You can tell that he has made a huge effort to explore grief, love, friendship and overcoming loss in a sensitive but effect way.

Overall, I would highly recommend giving You’ve Reached Sam for the effective way in which it explores grief, love, friendship and more. Although it did not meet all of my expectations it is a book I will be thinking about for a while and will be recommending.

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