Seeing this beautiful cover and reading the blurb and all amazing reviews I had such high expectations and was ready to have my heart completely broken by this book. The story and premise with the grieving girlfriend suddenly being able to call her dead boyfriend had such potential. But even though it was very well written, I never rooted enough for the characters for it to be the gripping, heartbreaking experience that I’d hoped for.
This story follows Julie who is grieving her boyfriend Sam who has just died in a car crash. She’s withdrawn from all her friends and family to try and handle her grief and her guilt for calling Sam to pick her up, and to figure out how to live a life without Sam. Regretting having thrown all his things away, she calls his phone, desperate to hear his voice on the voicemail, but to her surprise Sam picks up the phone and answers her.
The story is told from Julie’s perspective, but through flashbacks we get to see how she and Sam met and fell in love. These flashbacks were so sweet and I loved the small glimpses of Julie being happy and with Sam, in contrast to the present-day grief. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and a very well written and insightful exploration of grief, and there were some really great character developments and wonderful new friendships forming in the shadows of the loss. But this book had the potential to be so much more. The premises were so unique and the story set out to be so gripping and emotional that I was expecting a completely heart-breaking, ugly-crying experience, but for some reason I never felt as invested as I’d hoped for.
Even though the glimpses of Sam from the past were so sweet, he never became more than a memory to me, I never felt that I got to know him for real or feel the chemistry between him and Julie. And Julie, well, to be honest I never rooted for her. I can understand that we all grieve in different ways and that her way was to withdraw from everyone, but she still came across as too selfish for me to feel connected to her. The reason for her to not go to Sam’s funeral or any of the vigils or not even talk to Sam’s parents and little brother that she’d been so close to was never explained in a way that made any real sense. I also kept waiting for the explanation how she and Sam could talk on the phone, hoping for some big magical revelation or a twist of some sort, but this unique premise of the story about being able to call someone who’s dead was never fully explored or used to its full potential.
But I really enjoyed Julie’s character development and how she learned how to handle her grief in a healthy way, and the friendships that formed with the different persons missing Sam the most even though they hadn’t been friends before. Losing a loved one can lead to new love and friendships coming together in grief, and that new group of friends finding each other was such a lovely example of that. I also loved the epilogue and how it wrapped things up in a perfect way.
All in all, You’ve Reached Sam was a very well-written and insightful debut book exploring grief, friendship, and how to find a way to live on and form a new future without forgetting the love you’ve lost. So even though it wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for, I am definitely curious to read more of Dustin Thao’s books ahead.
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC and the opportunity to read this book! All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed Aislinn Brophy AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alex Beltran Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton Amanda Ferreira A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster Amy Spalding André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Ashlyn Kane Audrey Coulthurst Ban Gilmartin Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Cara Dee Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.F. White C.G. Drews Charlie Adhara Charli Meadows Chasten Buttigieg Chris Bedell Christina Lauren Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colette Davison Colleen Hoover Courtney Kae Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Dallas Smith Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Debbie Schrack Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton D.N. Bryn Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elisa A. Bonnin Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E.L. Massey E. Lockhart Emery Lee Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens F.T. Lukens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hannah Grace Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving H.S. Valley Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson James L. Sutter Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jen Bailey Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray Jesse H. Reign Joelle Lynne John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé Kathy Anderson KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Lauren Shippen Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Magdalena Di Sotru Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot Morgan James M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nathaniel Shea Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Nyla K. Owen Lach Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Racquel Marie Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Renée Dahlia Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Robin Gow Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Sasha Laurens Saundra Mitchell Saxon James Serena Bell Shannon O’Connor Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophia Soames Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tal Bauer Tamara Girardi Taylor Jenkins Reid Teagan Hunter Terry J. Benton-Walker Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tobly McSmith Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Tracy Deonn Tucker Shaw Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard V.L. Stuart Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez