Cover Image: You've Reached Sam

You've Reached Sam

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Member Reviews

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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This book takes you on an emotional journey through loss. In this story, Julie the main character, traverses the tragic heartbreaking loss of her boyfriend, Sam. I liked the magical realism in this book. The specific idea of “what if” is fascinating.  We all have someone we’d love to be able to talk to, hear their voice, share in their thoughts, and just let them know how much we love them one last time. What if we had the opportunity? The chance to say one last goodbye, to obtain closure, and have more peace when those we love are ripped from us too soon.  We get to experience this with Julie when she gets the chance to talk to Sam again. Overall I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t love it like I thought I would. There were many times I was frustrated with Julie and some of her actions. However, I understand what the author was trying to convey and the message came across. Everyone travels the road of grief differently. Everyone has their own path. Everyone expresses, processes, and internalizes sorrow and grief in their individual way. 
I would absolutely pick up future books by Dustin Thao because his writing is captivating. Even though it does include an epilogue, the ending is a bit abrupt for me. Still, it is a lovely and moving debut by this author. Four solid stars. 

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an advanced audiobook of You've Reached Sam in exchange for my honest review.
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Thank you to MacmillianAudio Young Readers and NetGalley for this audiobook ARC in exchange for an honest review.

CW: Death, grief, car accident, bullying, racism

Dustin Thao has written a beautiful and heartfelt debut. YA does not often dive into the realm of grief and loss and I greatly appreciate this book for doing so. This is a topic that needs to be addressed more. Filled with beautiful descriptions and a gentle writing style, Thao focuses on how everyone copes differently with a loss of a loved one.

The female MC, high school senior Julie, distanced herself from everyone after her boyfriend Sam died. After connecting with Sam on the phone for a second chance, she has difficulty letting him go when she needs to say goodbye to move on. Everyone who was affected by Sam's death reached out to her as much as they can, hoping to not lose her too. Tears were shed while reading this book.

I believe Soneela Nankani captured the longing and confusion as Julie when connecting with Sam. The narrator's voice was distinct enough for me to differentiate the diverse cast. As for the reading experience, the pacing was fine for the most part. I was able to follow one scene or chapter to the next.

If there was anything that needed improvements, it would be adding depth to the characters. I was uncertain about Sam and Julie's relationship as the story progressed and I wanted more out of the minor characters too. There were scenes that felt repetitive and slowed down the main plot of the story. It could've been fleshed out just a bit more.

This book may not be for everyone due to the topic, however, this touched me on a personal level with environments I find comfort in like cafes, bookstores, and art/film festivals. Even relatable quotes for finding inspiration in creative writing. All in all, I look forward to reading more of Thao's work and listening to Nankani's narration.

Also, I haven't read the print/ebook format just yet, so I will update on which format has the best reading experience. This is recommended for young adult readers and up.
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3.75 Stars! 

This is an emotional and intimate portrayal of grief, love, and loss. It starts off with Julie and Sam. Sam has died, and now Julie has a connection to him after death by being able to continually call him on the phone. I enjoyed the depictions of grief and Julie's deep desire to continue her connection with Sam, but I feel like we never really got to know Sam beyond Julie really loving him. I wish we were able to switch POV's or have more insight on Sam as a character because I feel like if he would of been developed more this would be a higher rating for me. I know the intent was to feel their deep connection, but I personally had difficulty connecting to Sam/Julie as a couple. It often became repetitive in the middle section of the book. I thought the writing and the concept were done really well and was great in the audiobook format.

Thank you NetGalley and Wednesday Books for this ALC in exchange for an honest review!
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As expected this is a tear jerker. Of course a story about a girl who finds out she can still talk to her dead boyfriend by calling his phone would be. Julie isn't grieving well. Until she calls Sam and he actually picks up. This is a story of love, loss and letting go. If you are in the mood for a good cry, I recommend you read this book. I listened to the audio and the narrator did a wonderful job making me forget I was listening so I could immerse myself in the story.
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Unfortunately, I personally couldn't connect with the characters in this story, but the concept is a wonderful one, and I think that Dustin Thao was able to beautifully capture grief and the process of healing in his writing. The narrator for the audiobook did a good job, and the cover is just downright gorgeous.
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This book was an emotional mess. Seventeen-year-old Julie loses her best friend/boyfriend in a car accident she feels responsible for. What follows is a path of self-destruction and a lot of mistakes she’ll come to regret. But she gets a second chance to say goodbye. 

What I liked: The premise of this story was fantastic. Loved the idea.
The narrator Soneela Nankani did a great job with all the different characters and voices.

What I didn’t like: It was… monotone. There were no highs and lows. It was all just a continuous low. And I had to stop listening several times and find something happier, and then go back to it.
I wish there was some spots in between all the grief for the reader to catch their breath before diving into the depression of these characters again.

Overall a good read. But not I book I’d go back to read again.
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You've Reached Sam (Audio) 
by Dustin Thao

Life has taken her dreams, her choices are negligible. Sam is died, he was killed in a horrific accident when he forgot to come pick Julie up from the train station. Julie is lost, everything is overwhelming, and she has no direction. When her call to him comes through it is an out of the blue experience. She has a connection to him, they can talk for hours, she has not lost him. Strange occurrences happen as she continues this connection. Text messages and even phone calls are not able to get to her phone. Especially when she is talking to Sam. Julie is becoming more distant from her remaining friends. and her mother is feeling more and more distance is happening. Is it worth while to stay in contact with him? should she go on with her life? she is disappointing everyone because she is loosing touch.  this story is about the regrets we have, the losses we live through as we deal with the passing of someone important in our lives. A very real and explicate look at the grieving process. 
The audio book version uses the readers voice to indicate so much of the characters regret, confusion and longing.
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Thank you Netgalley, Macmillan Audio, and Wednesday Books for this audiobook ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

You've Reached Sam follows Julie as she grieves the death of her boyfriend Sam. One day she wants to hear one Last time and decides to call Sam's cellphone. But then Sam picks up the phone. They continue to talk through cellphone conversations as Julie has one more chance to say goodbye. 

I absolutely loved this book. It deals with the topic of grief so well. I haven't read a book where grief is the main topic so this was completely new to me and I loved it. Dustin Thao has a way to make you appreciate life in a refreshing way. I hope many people read this book because it's one that will make you have so many feelings.
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Advanced Reader’s Copy provided by NetGalley, Macmillan Audio, and Macmillan Young Listeners in exchange for an honest review.

Content warning: car accident, teenage death.

What happens when 17 year old Julie's boyfriend suddenly dies in a car accident? And the reason for it all was because he forgot to pick her up, they argued, and Sam didn't listen when she said to not bother leaving the bonfire he was at with friends. But what if, by some chance, you can still talk to someone you've lost on the phone just one more time? YOU'VE REACHED SAM is about the grief process, of accepting that a loved one is dead, and learning how to begin to move on while keeping their memory alive.

Julie does a lot of things "wrong" after Sam's death. But Thao does a great job of showing readers why Julie is acting the way that she is and why she's processing Sam's death the way she does.

Thao's debut YA novel isn't a happy read given the plot, but I think it's an important topic to cover, especially for teens. While I felt like the beginning was a bit clunky, and I wasn't as emotionally engaged as I thought I would be, I do think this was a good debut and one that many YA readers will enjoy. 

Soneela Nankani narrates many YA titles (and Adult Fiction titles as well), which is a good thing, but for me ended up being a negative thing here. Nankani's tone and delivery was too similar to other recent YA titles I've listened to the audiobooks of which made the plots merge together because each book sounds exactly the same. Because of that, I think I would have had a better reading experience had I read a physical copy of this book.
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Oh that prologue really just draws you right in to Julie's emotional journey.
Soneela Nankani narrates an already beautifully heartbreaking story with such perfection. Each character really comes to life in the audiobook and I found myself having a hard time pausing the book to do important eat.

You've Reached Sam is an absolutely heavy, slow-burn story about the weight of grief and young love with just a sprinkling of magic tossed in. What I wouldn't give to be able to pick up the phone and talk to someone I care for again. This book definitely hits all the feels.

Big thank you to Macmillan Audio via NetGalley for the audio-ARC to listen to and honestly review.
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I read half of the book as an eARC and finished on audio, hoping it would make a difference in how I felt about the story and Julie as a narrator. Unfortunately, it did not change my feelings and I did not enjoy the performance, which may or may not have been because I didn't like Julie as a character. 

I usually listen to audiobooks on Libby sped up to 1.25 or 1.50 depending on how slow the narrator speaks, but unfortunately doing this with the Netgalley app leads to a robotic sound. Hopefully this is eventually fixed.

Full Book Review:

This was one of my most anticipated books of 2021. The synopsis had me feeling certain this would be a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, ugly cry inducing read and oh man, was I excited for it. I love a good heartbreaker. And the cover?! Beautiful.

Unfortunately, You've Reached Sam didn't deliver for me. It is a sad book, but I didn't feel very strongly and I only got watery-eyed at the end. I really wanted to connect with it more, but it wasn't there. I got 60% of the way through and it began to feel like it was dragging and I couldn't wait to be done. It's a slow read and there was a lot of parts that felt unnecessary or at least not fleshed out.

I had a hard time with Julie. I don't know if it was that I was frustrated with the way she was grieving (or not grieving) or if it was that even in flashback scenes she didn't come across as likeable. I didn't feel like the loss of Sam is to blame for her being prickly and selfish. I sympathize with Julie's loss — I just didn't care about her. I also didn't care about Sam, which was especially disappointing. I honestly didn't care about any of the characters, but I was pleased with the diversity of the characters.

We aren't given any lead up to Sam's death, which is something I think hurt the story. There was not much chemistry between Sam and Julie in their phone calls and the flashback scenes. I would have loved to have alternating perspectives, with Sam covering the "before" scenes. The moments between them were bland and I couldn't believe that they spent three years together.

Dustin Thao is a talented writer and I would read his work again in the future. I can see this book doing well with some readers, but it won't be at the top of my recommended reading lists.

2.75 stars, rounded up to 3.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy.
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Get the tissues ready for this one. If you're looking for an emotional read and a good cry, this one is definitely for you.
This YA book does a great job of presenting the topic of grief and loss in a sensitive and gentle way.  The emotions were so raw and real, it was impossible not to be pulled right into the story of Julie and Sam. The writing was executed so well and that was definitely a huge part of the success of this book. It was a character-driven plot but I never felt like it was slow. 
I'm looking forward to hopefully read more books by this author in the future!
Thank you to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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