Cover Image: You've Reached Sam

You've Reached Sam

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Member Reviews

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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So I’m normally an emotional wreck when I read a book about death, but for some reason I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I wanted to. I listened to the audio book, so maybe that’s where the disconnect came from. I could hear the emotion in the writing and I felt the loss… but I’m not sure where I disconnected.

I really loved Sam. Albeit the only part of him in the story was his voice, but I loved his character.

I just didn’t love Julie. She’s the MC throughout the book… I don’t want to judge anyone based on the way they grieve, so I’ll just say I didn’t love the choices she made. I think she will grow to regret them. (I’m talking about a fictional character like she is real, I know)

I loved the basis of the story, but just not allllllll of it. I wanted the racist bullies to be knocked down a few more pegs as well. It feels unfinished to me, even though it very clearly ended. 🤷🏻‍♂️
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This was hard because while I felt like the idea was good, the execution just kind of fell flat for me. It's one I probably would have enjoyed more were I an actual teenager, but I hope that it still reaches the readers it needs to. A lot of us have felt grief in some form, and this could potentially give hope to those who experience grief. I was intrigued, but overall, this one just wasn't for me.
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This book was devastatingly beautiful. It talks about grief and how to navigate it, and the POC representation was very nice.

I wish more things were explained by the end, but the story and the characters were enough to make this book compelling and make me devour it!
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3.5 Stars

Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for an ALC of this book.

Julie had her entire future planned out with her boyfriend Sam. But when Sam is killed in a car accident, she is left with nothing but grief. Calling his phone expecting to just hear his voice on the voicemail, Julie is instead connected with Sam from beyond death.

This book is very sad and emotional throughout the entire thing. I guess there is nowhere else to go with a plot synopsis like that. This was an interesting exploration of grief, not just for Julie, but for her friends and people around her. I liked the parts where they all participated in rituals to try and move on, and how this affected Julie when she was still in communication with Sam.  Super sad book.

Pub Date: Nov 9, 2021

 Content Warnings
Graphic: Grief, Child death, and Death
Moderate: Bullying, Racism, and Car accident
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I have looked forward to this book for months, I recently got the audio version and was even more excited. Unfortunately I was super disappointed in the actual story. I expected to fall in love with the characters and feel a deep emotional connection. In reality, I was annoyed by the characters, narrator and the storyline. I’m sure others will appreciate this book, it was not for me.
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3.5 stars -- 

I really loved the premise of this book, (and how gorgeous is that cover?!), but my biggest comment about YOU'VE REACHED SAM is that it could have been a packs-a-punch short story. I'd have loved if it had been part of a meaningful anthology about how people handle grief, or experiences with loss. For me, it just wasn't enough substance to make a novel-length story, so it felt fluffy and even pointless at parts. It dragged in places. Also, some of the main characters behaviors had me ??? sometimes.

Overall, a really unique concept with beautiful writing (and what a gut-punch of a finish), but the overall execution left me wanting. 

(Audiobook note: Soneela Nankani does a really fantastic job narrating this book! I thoroughly enjoyed the listening experience and she handled the characters and tone well.)

Thank you to Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for the audiobook ARC in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
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I started this book off feeling very melancholic... despite never having really met Sam I felt a sense of loss when reading about how Julie felt. Thao did a great job at developing his characters and making us care for them, however I feel that this book didn't need to be as long as it did.
For the last 25% of the book I found myself losing interest and getting a little annoyed at Julie...
Maybe people who actually enjoy contemporary would have a better time with the end of this book. Overall, had fun reading it which is all I expect from a book. 
(Also that scene towards the end with the petals in the field? Beautiful imagery and probably my favourite scene in the book.)
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comes out november 9th of this year!

Wooooow. I'm disappointed, to say the least. This was on my most anticipated releases list for, not only this season but the entire year and it was such a letdown. I liked the writing style and there were certainly moments the story tugged on my heartstrings, but I couldn't connect overall to the characters or the plot or... really anything. I kept waiting for the moment when I would really feel for these people and, unfortunately, I never did. I guess I wish the story was more fleshed out. I wanted to know more about the characters and what was going on with the phone calls. I liked the fantasy element and how it allows for an interesting exploration of grief, but then we never dove into it and I was left feeling confused about the whole thing. There were sad moments and, as I just said, I did enjoy how the story explored grief, but I just couldn't connect. It needed... MORE for me.

Also, can we all sign some petition to have audio arcs on NetGalley not echo so much? Ohmygawd it's terrible. Anything over 1x speed and I instantly have a headache from the sound.

reading thoughts

-uhm... why is she throwing EVERYTHING away??? even deleting pictures ????? like i know grief is CRAYZEE, but damn. DAMN.
-netgalley audio arcs are the worst. i'm sorry but WHY is there always so much echo. ughhhh.
-this was on my most anticipated list for 2021. all i'll say is now i'm questioning every other book on that list. ion trust my own taste anymore.

tbr comments

wait this sounds like heartbreak
GUESS who got an audiobook arc from netgalley??? this soon-to-be-heartbroken gal!!!

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for an advanced readers audiobook. All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.
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This was an emotional and captivating story and I really did want to love it. I think the fact that it started off right into the emotions and didn't let it build to a climactic point is what I struggled with. I do like a good cry but I think I like it when it is more unexpected. I didn't cry with this read and it just felt heavy living in that head space while reading this one. I still would definitely recommend this book for those who are grieving as this novel that Dustin Thao wrote may make them feel like they are not alone.
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