Cover Image: You've Reached Sam

You've Reached Sam

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Member Reviews

You've Reached Sam starts off kind of like A Christmas Carol does. That's right: someone in the beginning of this book has passed away. Julie is the surviving girlfriend of Sam and Sam died as a result of a terrible car accident. While processing her boyfriend's death, Julie is broken up about it and avoids all social interactions. She misses Sam so much that, eventually, she calls him... and guess who picks up?

Honestly, I think if you're an anime fan like me or a fan of Makoto Shinkai's work, you may really like this book. The book also reminds me of if Makoto Shinkai wrote P.S. I Love You. It's a sad story because there is a lot of grief and watching Julie go through grief in the book, but there's also something magical about being able to have those last moments with someone who has passed away even for a brief period of time longer. There's also this underlying idea of how grief can sometimes take over the moments of our lives that we're living right now when we don’t let go when it’s time to let go.
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Emotional, beautiful, and utterly heartbreaking, You've Reached Sam will take you on the best emotional roller coaster ride you could ask for. 

Dustin Thao's writing is absolutely beautiful and if you're looking for a book to truly make you feel--this is it.
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A beautifully written YA focusing on dealing with grief. A great depiction of how some process a loss of a person close to them with a slight supernatural spin. 

As someone who recently loss a close family member, I would love to be able to call and speak to them wherever they are now. But although this story is fantastical it still gives real life hope on moving forward without them but still keeping their memory alive. 

Thank you to NetGalley and MacMillan Audio for an advanced audiobook for review.
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After her boyfriend Sam dies, high school senior Julie feels lost and alone. In a desperate attempt to hear his voice just one more time, she calls him, and to her surprise, he answers. Through unknown forces, they are connected again and allowed to speak, to finally be able to say goodbye. Julie must keep their calls a secret, but when she sees the pain his family is experiencing, she has to choose whether to keep the connection and Sam to herself, or to tell the truth and allow his family to experience peace and closure and risk losing Sam forever.

This was a very heavy book. The characters were so realistic and their emotions were real and raw. Julie was an interesting character, and though not totally likable, I appreciated watching her learn to accept her loss and work through her grief in various ways. The other characters were fine, but I wish they had been developed more. It makes sense that they weren’t though because Julie was lost in her own world. The calls with Sam were the parts of the book I was looking forward to most, but they fell flat for me. The way Sam and Julie talked to each other during several of the calls was unexpected and lacking. I had hoped to experience more depth of emotions while listening, but the plot wandered and often had nowhere to go, making the emotional scenes less impactful. The writing itself was poignant and beautiful, but with a little more direction, I think it would have evoked more emotions within me.

Soneela Nankani was a brilliant narrator and captured Julie’s struggles and sorrows so well. Her variety of voices for each character were subtle and effective. There was a melancholic quality to her voice that pervaded the audiobook, perfectly matching the tone of the novel.

Overall, I liked this novel quite a lot, I just wish there had been more to it—more emotions, more character development, and more meaningful conversations between Julie and Sam. Despite my wanting more, I would recommend it and think it may hit differently for others than it did for me.

(I received this audiobook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)
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This is the story of Julie and Sam.  They started dating when she moved to town.  For three years, they were together.  Then Sam dies.  Julie is having a hard time with her grief and at a low point, calls him on the phone.  She is surprised when he answers.  Through these phone calls, Sam and Julie help each other deal with what happened.
Opinion
I was lucky enough to get an audio and ebook copy of this book from Net Galley.  The narrator was excellent and conveyed emotions well.  Being able to both read and listen to the book, I was taken back to when I was in school.  It helped to enhance my opinion of the story.
Overall, it is a very tough topic.  No one wants to hear about teen's deaths.  However, this book was done very eloquently and with sensitivity.  While some scenes are blunt for how they show teens reacting to the death, Thao conveys the emotions in the scenes and the driving force behind said emotions.  This is a great book, especially for someone dealing with a loss in their own life.  It may help them through the cycle of grief.
Many thanks to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC of this book.
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A heartbreaking and unusual coming of age story that realistically portrays grief and the varied emotional experiences that loss can create. A book that is as beautiful as it is gut-wrenching and a powerful testament to grief and second chances with a little bit of magic!

When Julie loses her long-time boyfriend to an accident, her life comes to a sudden halt. Julie’s perfectly planned future means nothing without Sam, so she puts her life on hold in the process. Wanting to hear Sam’s voice, Julie decided to call his cellphone, but instead of reaching his voice mail she actually reaches Sam. Neither one of them understands the connection, but maybe this will be Julie’s chance to finally say goodbye.

This one destroyed my heart, but in the best possible way. This is written in such an honest and authentic way and explains how each individual in Sam’s life dealt with their loss differently and at their own pace. The narrators voice inflection is so well done and brought me to tears a couple of times. This YA romance is deeply moving and one of the most unique spins on dealing with loss.
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3 1/2 stars 

I went into this book with the expectation that it would wreck me. I was prepared to have tears continually streaming down my face. Obviously, it was very sad. However, not nearly as intense as I expected. me when reading the book. 

The main character, Julie is trying to muddle her way through the loss of her boyfriend, Sam. Everyone around her seems to have any opinion about what she's doing. I did think some of her behavior was odd. But people should never judge or question someone about "how" they grieve....everyone does it differently. That part was heartbreaking. It felt as if Julie didn't have many people to go to who understood her.

I think the author's goal of showing how Julie worked her way through the grieving process was a good one. For me, it felt as if it drug in certain places. I lost sight of where the book was going in places and had to work to keep myself reading. That's never ideal. In the end, I was glad I stuck with it. It was nice to see Julie go full circle with her process.

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC. I voluntarily chose to review it and the opinions contained within are my own.

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: The narration for the book was good. I wouldn't say outstanding - - but definitely good. I would say that it wasn't my favorite audiobook. It didn't pull me in and keep me drawn into the story. I was just a content to read it. (3 1/2 stars)
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Wow, where even to begin with this one? First, thank you Wednesday Books for giving me access to an ALC in exchange for an honest review. It was a truly magical experience listening to this book. I wanted to crawl inside and live there forever with Julie.

This novel is breath-taking and effervescent in the way it's written. I can't emphasize enough about how full of emotion it is, and I feel like it explores grief well. I was so moved by Julie's story, and she grapples with some really tough questions. It's easy for people outside to judge her reaction/grieving process, but it was so nuanced in the way this book is written. I can't recommend this book enough.
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You’ve Reached Sam was a one of my most anticipated YA reads of this year, and I was thrilled to receive the audiobook for review. The story, the writing, the promise of heartbreak? It did not disappoint.  Though the time jumps in the beginning were a little hard to follow via audio, I still found this story to be an incredible—deeply emotional in a way that had me clinging to tissues the entire time I listened. Definitely recommend  if your a fan of angst, first love, and finding yourself during the most difficult part of your life.
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Thank you to the publisher for the advanced ecopy of You've Reached Sam by Dustin Thao.  It had lots of sweet moments and the overall message of how everyone deals with grief differently was a good one.  I was a little torn on how to rate the overall story because I would not say I ended up really enjoying the book overall.  The audiobook narrator sounded like she was whining pretty much every line....I mean her inflection never really changed.  The main character had a way of dealing with her grief that was bizarre AND offensive.  I genuinely can't imagine her mother or friends wouldn't have at some point grabbed her and told her to get a hold of herself.  It is one thing to grieve in your own way.  It is a whole other thing to grieve in a way that actively hurts those around  you who are also grieving.  And no, I will never think that is OK.  So while I struggled with that aspect, I did like how the author got into how different grief affected various people from Sam's life.  I think a lot of teen readers who are comfortable with melodrama and angst will love the book.  I am probably too old and jaded for it.
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You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao had great potential, but just didn’t live up to what it could have been. 
The idea of the story was original, and that was what appealed to me originally, but I just didn’t feel invested in the story. 
I really thought the narration was good on this and if you want to check out this story, the audiobook is a good option. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for the opportunity to read this book for an honest review.
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While the narrator was very good, the story fell apart pretty easily. I was all in for this to be a story about magic. I thought, “oh cool, a YA version of Rainbow Rowell’s Landline.”  This was not that. I could not connect with Julie. The were a ton of contradictions and I felt that while everyone grieves in his or her own way, Julie was pretty terrible to Sam’s family, who are obviously also grieving.
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Thank you for Netgalley for a audio arc of this book.

In this book you follow Julie who lost her boyfriend in an accident and follow her journey as she greaves.

I was so excited to read this book. I expected to cry and have my heart ripped out, but unfortunately it did not live up to the expectation.

It was hard to be invested in a couple of that as a reader you didn’t get to watch their love blossom and grow and even though there were flashbacks it wasn’t quite enough. I think it is a solid read it’s quick and it is enjoyable but it’s not some thing I ended up loving. I would have liked to see a development of love before finding out Sam was dead. I think it would have added a level of mystery to the story to keep the reader engaged. 

The narrator was good and changed her voice for the different characters. I just wanted more from the story.
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I loved this book when I read it, so I was really excited to revisit the book through this audiobook.  And it was okay. The narrator didn't do much for me and the story seemed to drag a bit, which was strange because it didn't before.  In this case, I think I prefer the print version. 
But here's what I wrote previously about the story:
In this book, we find Julie, a high school senior whose boyfriend Sam has just been killed in a car accident.  She struggles to accept this loss.  How is she supposed to move on without Sam?  They had made so many plans together.  In desperation, she dials his number and he picks up.  HE PICKS UP.  Yes, that's right.  She talks to dead Sam, who understands that he is dead.  A tale laced with magical realism.; you just need to accept the fact that she IS talking to Sam and grieving that loss.  I found it a bit troubling how Julie was willing to put her own life on hold and talk to her dead boyfrend for hours and hours instead of moving on.  Ferris Bueller was right when he said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."  Teens will love this book, however, and that's the target audience.
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Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books, Macmillan Audio, Dustin Thao, and Soneela Nankani (narrator) for the opportunity to read and listen to the audiobook of You've Reached Sam in exhcange for an honest review.

The narrator, Soneela Nankani, does an amazing job narrating as the main character Julie. She has a number of book narrations under her, and this one is just as well done.

Julie is a senior in high school. She has a boyfriend she loves and plans for the perfect college to study creative writing. But ldespite tedious planning, life never quite follows that plan. In this case, Sam, Julie's boyfriend, dies in a car accident after going to pick ehr up. Julie struggles with the guilt, feeling like it is her fault that he died. She can't bear to go to his funeral or visit his family.

When Julie tries to call Sam's phone, she is surprised when he picks up. How can someone who is dad be able to talk on the phone? He tells her that their phones are connected, though this can't last forever. Julie even thinks these conversations might all be in her head. But maybe they aren't? Sam tells her not to tell anyone because it might ruin their connection.

Julie find excitement in her phone calls with Sam, and while others are struggling with the loss, the fact that he is still there for Julie, in a way, make it seem as if he is still there. This will bring Julie's struggle with the loss to become even harder when the time comes she can no longer speak with him.

This is by no means the tear-jerker I expected, but still an excellent story dealing with the loss of a loved one, especially someone young who had a whole future before him. Part of the take-away is that accidents happen, and loss is going to be something hard to deal with, no matter who you are or who you have lost. This story is very generic when it comes to the high school genre, but the phone calls from a dead boyfriend are an interesting aspect. There is not a lot of development with it, but it's the one aspect of the story that makes it more unique.

This is a quick read, though may not be the best for those more sensitive about car accidents and loss. It's not necessarily an easy book, but at the same time, it is easy, because the fact that Julie can talk to Sam over the phone makes the loss more bearable, but it's not something people will actually get to experience. Then again, supernatural things can happen. Either way, a good book.
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This was a medium-paced, fairly average, boring at time story of high school love and loss. I found myself caring a lot about most characters by the end and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested. The concepts were pretty well executed overall and if you are someone who typically enjoys these sorts of stories I'm sure you'd absolutely love it, this simply isn't my preferred genre to begin with.
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This book didn't live up to expectations. While Julie was obviously grieving, her selfishness (turning her back on his family (especially the young brother) and other actions were annoying. I also felt the story got repetitive. Plus, there were characters that were somewhat significant to the story who just disappeared (we never found out what happened to Oliver and Jay, Tristan, and her other friends, for example). I had high hopes but ultimately just found this one slow and mediocre.
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*I received this book for free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Folks, it's just the cover. You can go home now.

Such an intriguing premise, but it is not developed enough. I love the whole "dead guy picking up the phone" idea. It is never really explored to a deeper extent so my interest fell immediately. I like plot-driven books and this is character-focused. And Julie is very whiny and not likable.

I liked the memory flashbacks. They blend in an interesting manner. It made me pay attention at the beginning so I could piece together the situation. Once I understood what was occurring it quickly got dull. I didn't feel any emotion like I thought I would. I also did not like how everything was conveniently wrapped up in the end.

The writing talks too much about visuals/nature, Julie's insecurities/woe is me persona, and overall page fillers.  It really needed more magical realism or paranormal stuff because it isn't interesting enough to be riding on watching leaves fall to the ground.

I couldn't stand the audiobook reader. It made it so much worse than if it were just a physical copy. She has a drawn-out tone the whole time. Like she is attempting to make everything sound dramatic when it shouldn't be. Her voice was very annoying and distracting from the story. I really wished Sam would have had his own voice actor. Because the woman's voice for him didn't mesh. Perhaps in a few years or so the author will have more writing experience and develop his voice. Overall, as a debut, I thought it needed more work.
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Disclaimer- I work for a bookstore, all opinions are my own and not affiliated with store or company. Thank you Netgalley and Wednesday books for an ARC of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review. 

I will discuss story first and then the audio aspect.

This audiobook was devastating but a pleasure to listen to. This books main focal point is the idea of grief. We follow Julie as she comes to terms with losing her boyfriend to a devastating accident.
This book personally helped me understand grief in multiple levels. At times the main character had some frustrating moments but I believe this is ultimately a good depiction of how someone might actually feel.  To an outsider the grief might not make sense and can be frustrating to watch, but we can never truly feel what the person experiences it feels. So usually this would be a negative but I found that this really heightened the story. There wasn't much plot outside of Julie seeing her friends but this made sense within the context of the story. My favorite character ended up being Oliver with Sam/James a close second. Oliver showed a different perspective to grief with coming to terms with unresolved emotions and internal battles which really helped me connect with the story as a whole.

I loved going through the emotions with Julie, but I would recommend going into this book in the right mindset because at times the sad nature of the book in turn affected me. Most definitely worth the read with the right support and time.

Next, the audio book was produced with great quality. The narrator (Soneela Nankani) made listening to this book enjoyable and hard to put down. As always I listened to this book at 2x speed and it was still very easy to follow along. Although listening at 1x speed was also comfortable and I had no faults with it. The short chapters also made it easy to break down the audiobook into reasonable sections.

Overall the book, while sad, was well worth the read. The audiobook made this experience even better. I would recommend the Audiobook to those looking for a new one.
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I was granted eARC and audio ARC access to You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao through the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you to whoever decided to approve my request! My thoughts are my own and my review is honest. For simplicity, I will be writing a single review and I will contain my comments pertaining to the audiobook to its own single paragraph.

You’ve Reached Sam is the story of Washington state teenager Julie and the remainder of her senior year of high school after the unexpected death of her boyfriend Sam. Through some unknown magic, her phone and his have been connected beyond the veil and they’re able to talk after his death, but the connection is growing weaker, the calls shorter and farther apart, and Julie is learning what it means to move on.

This book is both heartbreaking and uplifting, and I truly think it will be very helpful and healing to readers young and old who are struggling through Julie’s situation. Julie is slowly reconnecting with the people she and Sam shared, finding new connections, and learning to put the pieces of her future back together without Sam in it. It’s so difficult, she faulters a lot, and she’s unintentionally hurting the living people who still care for her when she lets her grief and the connection with Sam she’s not wiling to give up get in the way, but eventually she’ll learn to carry Sam with her in a healthy, less interfering way and live the life he’d want her to have.

There were scenes in this book that brought me to tears. The emotions in this book are powerful and right on the money. It’s messy, and early-grief Julie is not a person I would want to be friends with. She’s flaking out on everyone still living, she’s forgetting about all of her responsibilities, she’s ready to throw away everything that reminds her of Sam because she can’t handle the memories yet she’s always lost in them, and she’s angry at her mother for honouring her wishes and not stopping her from letting those mementoes go. But as Julie reconnects with her friends and Sam’s family, as she comes out of her shell and make new connections, both returning to the girl she once was and taking steps toward the woman she’ll become, she becomes a character I very much fell in love with and feel quite attached to.

I feel like I should mention the #OwnVoices aspect of this book, as both Sam and Dustin are Asian-American men and some touches of cultural differences around death ceremonies and grieving are present in the story. It’s not super immersive and in-your-face different from what normally gets published, but the representation is there in subtle, loving ways.

I will say sometimes the extended lost in memories scenes are a bit much, a bit too long, and I wanted them to end so the story could move forward a tad faster. I was also quite disappointed… [spoiler available under spoiler tag on the Goodreads review. This hidden comment pertains to something revealed during one of the phone calls with Sam that shifted something for me, as a reader, with what I perceived as an important grief healing metaphor.]

The audiobook narration was perfect! Soneela Nankani’s voice works so well for this story, her pacing is great, and it was very easy to keep track of who was talking, whether or not we were in reality vs a memory, etc. I would definitely look for other books with this narrator.

Overall this is a touching story of love and loss, and a fantastic debut novel. I look forward to reading more from this author and I absolutely recommend this book to fans of YA.
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