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You've Reached Sam

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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.

Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. 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.

In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.

296 pages, Hardcover

First published November 9, 2021

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About the author

Dustin Thao is a Vietnamese American writer based in New York City. He graduated from Amherst College with a B.A. in Political Science, and is currently in a PhD program at Northwestern University. He writes contemporary fiction, and his debut novel You’ve Reached Sam is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 18,446 reviews
Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.4k followers
November 20, 2021
a really sweet, sentimental story that is dampened by an unlikable main character.

i honestly wanted to cut julie some slack in the beginning. grieving is an incredibly personal process and everyone handles it differently, so i was willing to tolerate a lot of her anger. but then i realised shes just as selfish and rude in the flashbacks. so its not her grief and sorrow thats making her lash out and treat everyone like crap, thats just who she is and it makes for a very frustrating and unenjoyable book.

which is such a shame because i think the story at its heart is a really good one and one i think will resonate with any reader who has ever struggled with letting someone go and moving on. the last chapter and epilogue are really quite touching, its just that i know i would have emotionally felt more if i had cared about julie. but i didnt. and sam deserved better, tbh.

but overall, still a decent debut and im interested in seeing what DT comes up with next!

thank you st. martins press/wednesday books for the ARC!

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Ayman.
202 reviews76k followers
November 9, 2021
this book… i am lost for words.

crying, screaming, banging my head on the wall, ripping my hair out, running in the rain, slowly sliding down a door after slamming it. omg this book hurt but it was so good.

the writing was enticing and beautiful.

this book quite literally made my heart ache, it wouldn’t be still my beating heart. the grief in this book just put tears to my eyes and now i feel like i need to turn my life around and get my shit together.

this book isn’t heavy on plot at all so don’t go in looking for that but the characters and the writing is what makes this a 5 star read, i was so invested.

i love these characters and i loved this story with all my heart.

plz look up TWs if you need to. honestly if you lost a loved one recently or someone very close to you, proceed with caution bc this book may not be for you ❤️
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
611 reviews87.5k followers
February 2, 2022
This. was. so. GOOD. I expected this to break my heart, and it definitely delivered on that front. I read an MTV book waaaay back in the day called I Heart You, You Haunt Me, and this felt like a more modern version of that. I loved that book when I read it so that left me really excited for this one. I loved how it jumped between then and now so there was a full look at Sam and Julie's relationship. It was really intense for how short it was but I found their love super believable, which made it all the more heartbreaking. I think Julie's struggles with grief seemed like an accurate depiction to me, and one that you don't see often in books. It makes her a bit of an unlikeable character which was an interesting twist. Seeing her transformation throughout the book made me root for her all the more. For me this book definitely lived up to the hype and was a super strong debut!
Profile Image for emma.
1,824 reviews48.3k followers
November 15, 2021
they say if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

anyway, that's my review.

(thanks to netgalley for the e-copy)
Profile Image for Hannah Azerang.
125 reviews94.4k followers
March 2, 2022
3.5 ⭐️

I enjoyed this! not as emotional as I was expecting, but the ending was beautiful
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,196 reviews40.6k followers
August 6, 2022
Oh my God! This tear jerker, the most emotional read of the year is finally out! Happy pub day!🥳🥂

I knew this book will break me into pieces. I knew it would slice my heart into tiny pieces. I knew it would hurt like hell since I read the blurb! But I eventually requested and I am still happy to read this extremely heartfelt beauty even though I’m an emotional mess right now!

This is story Julie and Sam! They are only seventeen but they seem like they figured out everything about their futures. They have bigger plans. Julie wants to be successful author as Sam wants to be great musician. They will leave the town, renting an apartment in the big city, going to Japan for holiday for meeting Sam’s grandparents. But... they cannot do any of them. Sam is gone!

Julie tries to erase their memories not to hurt anymore, throwing Sam’s belongings, rejecting to go to the funeral, rejecting to communicate with anyone, actually she rejects to say goodbye! She is not ready to leave him forever! And guess what: Sam is not ready to leave her, too!

When she hits the rock bottom, she calls Sam and he picks up the phone. Yes, she PICKS UP and it’s ABSOLUTELY SAM! But HOW IT COULD BE POSSIBLE! How can they communicate? But they actually do.

Sam still has things to show her, presents to share and Julie slowly adjusts in life before Sam. Telling their secret phone calls to anyone can mean they can be disconnected forever! So Julie cannot risk it by sharing with Sam’s loved ones who are struggling badly like her. But what about Mika! They were best friends and she slowly drifts away. She’s in deep pain. She thinks Julie already moved on her life, forgetting Sam, making plans to leave the city. But how can Julie leave Sam? One day she has to say goodbye because their connection on the phone gets weaker at each day. Can she handle to say last goodbye!

Let me tell you something: this book tells the grief so naturally, genuinely. You hear all the characters. You emphasize with their pain. You want to hug them, spending time with them, telling them it’s gonna be okay even though it is never gonna be because pain of losing someone is lifetime suffer. Sometimes it lessens, sometimes it blasts like you put more gasoline into fire. It always hurt but in some way you learn to deal with it. You have to deal with it to move on! Even though it hurts like hell we should hold the memories we shared like life buoy like Julie did!

No more words: I’m still crying. My emotions are everywhere! I need at least one hour to gather my feelings but I’m telling you something just read this powerful beauty and meet those amazing characters! The pain you endure, the sadness you need to overcome are truly worth it!

Special thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press/ Wednesday Books for sharing this excellent digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.
Profile Image for Cait Jacobs (Caitsbooks).
303 reviews14.3k followers
October 12, 2021
This book broke me.

You've Reached Sam is a fantastic debut. It is an emotional journey, that will having you crying, laughing, then crying again. And again. I cried a lot.

One thing I loved was the characters. The story begins after Sam's death, and our protagonist, his girlfriend Julie, is grieving. She isn't the most likable character in these early chapters, and that made me love the book even more. Grief is messy. It's painful and can turn you into someone you don't recognize. And I love that Dustin Thao did not shy away from this. Julie's journey is incredible, and the use of some magical aspects only enhances it. The other characters are equally well-rounded, and each has their own development. I especially loved Sam as a character. We learn more and more about him and Julie's past as the story goes on, which just adds to the pain you feel over his death.

And this book is painful. In the best possible way. I cried over 9 times in only 300 pages. Towards the end, I couldn't even keep try of exactly how many times I cried because it was just a constant stream of tears.

This book will be one that will stick with me forever, and I would recommend it to anyone who's looking for an emotional and beautiful read.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,292 reviews2,287 followers
May 1, 2023
I would say do not expect too much from the book. It's young adult and it deals with some heavy topics regarding death and grief. Take your time.

Well... I stopped caring about the characters and the whole thing about Sam when I reached half the book.

What went wrong?

But first, what was done right.

The writing is gripping. The characters are relatable. They are realistic. They are the age they are. The grief and the emotions felt so real. There are tears and guilt and regrets. Yes, you will feel connected to the writing, the characters and the emotions.

However, the plot kept stretching too much that the second half didn't feel that important. The story could have been much shorter. The side characters somehow felt disconnected from the main story and the main characters.

The cover is just beautiful and I am really glad it's related to the story and the main characters.

The hype couldn't live up. It's okay. The writing is good and the main characters seem real. That's the best part.
Profile Image for may ➹.
480 reviews1,940 followers
August 20, 2021
“You called me.” His voice is as calm as water. “And I picked up. Like I always do.”

Following a teenage girl who lost her boyfriend to a car accident and magically gained a final opportunity to speak to him through phone calls, the haunting premise of You’ve Reached Sam promised an emotionally devastating study of grief, loss, and letting go. While I appreciated its depiction of the different ways people grieve and cope, never shying away from what might not be the cleanest, most acceptable forms of grief, I unfortunately didn’t feel very connected to the story or emotionally affected by it. There is poignant, heartbreaking beauty to be found in this book, certainly, but this is a story that you feel all or nothing for—and unfortunately, it was erring on the side of nothing for me.

Julie was an interesting character to follow, and though I didn’t quite love her specifically, I did love what Thao explored with her. To me, it was not an issue that she was “unlikeable” or “annoying” as other readers might call her, because her story was about working through her grief in whatever forms it might have been, whether or not it was kind to herself or others. I thought her arc was a beautiful examination of learning how to hold on to people after they’ve gone, without holding them or herself back. The fact that Julie becomes a bit insensitive and prickly is a testament to the exceptional ways a loss of a loved one can affect people, especially when juxtaposed with how others grieve for Sam.

“We have too many voices inside our heads. You have to pick out the ones that mean something to you. What story do you want to tell?”

Sam, on the other hand, completely lacked dimension until the ending, perhaps because we only see him through the lens of Julie and her grief, so he was less of an actual, rounded person and more of a figure. Because Sam was not well-fleshed out, his relationship with Julie fell flat for me. I mostly didn’t feel that they truly loved each other to the extent that Julie was making it out to be, and sometimes I even thought that Julie had approached their relationship in an unhealthy way (before Sam’s death). And since their romance is the focal point of the story yet I felt no emotional connection to it, the entire book failed to make an impact on me. Most of the sadness I felt over You’ve Reached Sam was a result of the general concepts of death and grief being tragic, rather than Julie and Sam’s specific story being particularly sad to me. A loved one dying at such a young age is surely horrifying, but the specificities of Julie and Sam’s relationship didn’t make it any more emotionally devastating for me.

In fact, if you’re not emotionally invested in this book, you probably will not enjoy it, because the plot is a bit repetitive (and the beginning is particularly stagnant). Though Thao explores the relationships Julie has with other people, mainly those also affected by Sam’s death, this is more the story of Julie’s personal growth in relation to grief and letting go. And since I lacked a strong connection to the story most of the time, the book felt dragged out even though I knew the character development that was taking place. There really isn’t much else to latch on to as an uninvested reader; the writing is sometimes beautiful with its imagery, and other times leaves much to be desired with its clunkiness and lack of emotion. And though the other side characters and the way their grieving intersects with Julie’s are interesting, they aren’t given a lot of page time in favor of focusing on Julie’s arc.

Letting go isn’t about forgetting. It’s balancing moving forward with life, and looking back from time to time, remembering the people in it.

You’ve Reached Sam is truly a book I feel will be either a complete hit or miss, depending on the extent of its emotional influence on you. Though I do love how it portrayed how many shapes someone’s grief can take, and I was touched by some heartbreaking scenes (especially the end), those were pretty much the only highlights for me and they were not enough to make up for the considerable indifference I felt over the majority of the book. I wouldn’t particularly encourage nor discourage reading this book, since I genuinely feel that it will be different for each person. But I think if you intimately know the impossible struggles of having to move on from and let go of a loved one, this might be a book you find a deep connection with. I, unfortunately, was unable to find that.


:: representation :: Japanese American LI, Japanese American character, Thai mlm side character, Vietnamese side character, gay side character

:: content warnings :: death of loved one, depiction of grief, car accident

// buddy read with krisha!

Thank you to Macmillan for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinions in any way.

All quotes are from an advanced copy and may differ in final publication.
Profile Image for SK.
248 reviews1,311 followers
December 19, 2022
"I miss you"
"I miss you too. I miss you infinity."

*Deep breaths* 😭💔 *deep breaths* 😭💔
*Uncontrollable sobbing*

I hate this so much. But I love this so much. I know it doesn't make sense. It was painful, heartbreakingly beautiful, and so real to deal with regret, grief and loss.

I started off with this book feeling very little connection to Sam and Julie but once I crossed the 100 page mark, and we got to see more of their time together, it was so easy to fall in love with the characters. To think and hope like Julie, that somehow Sam will stay.

I did not care much for the supporting characters, except for maybe Mika. I wish we could've seen more of Sam's family, we only got to see little bit of James. I also wish we could've known what happens to Sam after the calls end. It's obvious that he moves on, but it's more to do with growing attached to his character that as a reader it wasn't easy to let go.

Saying goodbyes to our loved ones has never been an easy thing to do and Dustin Thao brings those emotions, that heavy reality to life in his book. Honestly, it would make an amazing movie.

After finishing this book, I just had to stop and cry. It's hands down one of my favourite books of the year and even a lifetime. I don't think I would read this again anytime soon but whenever I do in the future, I hope I love it the same.
Profile Image for pauline.
127 reviews21.6k followers
December 12, 2021
You’ll sob your heart out.

Couldn’t breathe in the last few pages. Good luck 🥲
Profile Image for Althea ☾.
623 reviews1,952 followers
January 28, 2022
[Long review incoming]

*Thank you to the publisher -Wednesday Books- and the author -Dustin Thao- for sending me an ARC to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

You’ve Reached Sam is basically about the question “what if you get a chance to talk to someone who has already passed?”.

Like a lot of other reviewers, I'm sad to say that I was also disappointed as it didn’t really live up to my expectations of a mystical and, though heart-breaking, still a fulfilling read. It made me wish that they didn’t compare it to Kimi no Nawa because I think it ended up hurting this book more. I did still enjoy it for what it was but I found myself waiting for that drop of awe that never happened.

First things first, I’ve been seeing some reviewers label this as Ownvoices when it isn’t (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just mislabeled). If I’m analyzing it correctly, Obayashi (Sam’s last name) is a Japanese name, even their other friend Yuki sounds Japanese and the author is Vietnamese. Based on other aspects of the story (cherry blossoms, anime, lanterns, the fact that he visited his grandparents in Japan, etc.) it was obvious to me that the author wanted to point out the Japanese inspirations in the story. Let’s not equate Ownvoices as something that a book needs to be in order to be considered good nor should it be used just because both the author and the character is Asian.

with that out of the way…

The best part about this book is Julie’s character arcs over losing and moving on from her first love. In my opinion, it was one of the best written character storylines (in terms of progression and what was tackled) revolving around grief that I have read in a while. With that said, it’s definitely a heavy read, especially in the beginning and you really feel the anguish and frustration that Julie is going through. My emotions were in sync with Julie’s, in a way.

But I was immensely disappointed by the Your Name/Kimi no Nawa comp because the only thing they had in common was that they both have a magical realism aspect (that wasn’t even similar in their mechanisms). Which is not enough, in my opinion, to say that this book is reminiscent of Your Name. I loved Your Name for the intensity and mystery of the fantasy that was given a *gasping-out-loud-while-crying-your-eyes-out* explanation by the end and the journey that we were on from BOTH characters' perspectives, which we didn’t really get here.

“If the ending is this painful, I don’t know if this was worth it all.”

The romance in Your Name was effective in that we were able to slowly watch the connection build up between the characters before the heart-wrenching part happens (if you watched it, you know what i mean). Here it was kind of done the other way around and while I think the premise was really promising and interesting, I had a hard time feeling a connection to Sam and Julie like I did with the main characters in it’s anime comp.

Don’t get me wrong, I did end up crying in two distinct parts so I’m not saying that this made me feel like I had a heart of stone. It’s definitely still capable of bringing out feelings of sadness but maybe not enough. You know it's sad but you move on very easily from it like "yeah that was sad" and read on. Which I feel like should not be the goal? xD

There were more than a few parts that annoyed me. Given this is young adult, the immature scenarios and personalities are slightly understandable but i don’t think the “mean kids” and other “mean people” were flushed out or written very well. It honestly felt like they were just there to provide additional conflict when I think the book could have done without them or if their personalities were more subtle/nuanced/implied. It felt very “in your face” and I didn’t enjoy that. Especially since I don’t think that part of the plot was given proper closure either. There were certain plot decisions that i wasn’t happy about because they felt like cop outs. It added an aspect that did not match the atmosphere I was hoping for.

I did really love the development of Julie's friendship with the other characters. It was heart-warming to watch. Though I think too much was going on and a storyline such as this would have benefitted with less issues but were delved into more deeply.

The main problem that I feel like this book had was that the conflict was coming from too many different areas that the story had a hard time pulling that together at the end. I’m going to once again bring up Your Name since it’s everywhere in the promotion of this book and it’s hard not to compare it when they do that… but in that movie the characters are mostly fighting against this natural phenomenon and that’s really where the main conflict was. And although multiple conflicts isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, it needs to form a cohesive storyline that comes full circle in the end…. which was what Your Name was able to do successfully but this particular plot failed to see through, in my opinion.

Additionally, part of what made Kimi no Nawa so heartfelt is how unflinchingly set it was in Japanese culture. From the fantastical aspect, to behavioral patterns, setting, and character dynamics. It was easy to see the details and thought put into it that it added another layer of realism to the story. Which was another aspect that this book lacked since the most we got was Sam going to Japan a few times, mention of cherry blossoms, an Asian Film Club, and some lanterns… all of which didn’t really play that big of a part in the plot though it did somewhat do things for character development.

“Now I can’t wait to move on and make new memories with you. Just don’t forget the ones we made here.”

I’m being nitpicky here but I just naturally become one when I’m sent ARCs. There was a line that implied that songs about love weren’t good and it was never directly taken back by the character who said it even though it was sort of implied in a separate scene. Based on the message of the story, I don’t think that’s what the author meant to do but I hope they fix that in edits. I don’t know if I’m just a little more sensitive to the musical aspect because I’m a musician but that just left a bad taste in my mouth.

In a writing style standpoint, this had the magical realism aspect that Your Name has but as a reader, it lacked the connection and heart-fulfilling moments that I feel every time I watch Kimi no Nawa.

Again, this is a heavy book that brings that mood with it a big part of the way through. So I suggest not reading this until you are in the mood for something more heavy-hearted and slow-paced. I do think this is the kind of book that can affect someone’s life if read at the right time and in the right circumstances. Just please stop comparing it to Your Name, I don't think they are anything alike. ↢

— 2.5 —
content warnings// Grief, Death, Physical Harassment

pre-read review

update: ARC has been secured 😌

you know what would be crazy, if I rewatched Your Name for the 100th time and then read this book. I wonder how hard I'm going to cry.

I don't know if my heart can take the sadness of the actual story, but we're going to read it anyway. November TBR population: 1

..........IM OKAY. IM NOT SAD. AT ALL.
Profile Image for Irena BookDustMagic.
616 reviews499 followers
November 11, 2021
When I picked You've Reached Sam I was ready to be emotionally wracked. Just reading the premise I expected to be at least touched with the story, if not literally crying (because I don't do that often).
Instead, most of the time, this book made me feel... confused.

It had original part: the phone calls between late boyfriend and alive girlfriend, and I do appreciate it's uniqueness, but if I am being completely honest, after a while I just didn't see the point.
I blame the execution for that part. The idea was good.

I also blame the main character who seriously lacked manners and empathy.

I also didn't understand how she, and people around her, acted as if everyone should move on so quickly. She getting rid of all of her stuff, her mother advising her and people in school in general. One would say it's been 6 months since Sam's accident, not a week.

The book was written in first person, following Julie's POV.
The author's voice was good and I believe with time it will improve with time.

In my opinion this was a solid ya book with magical elements that made it unique, and it was good for entertainment purpose.
Profile Image for Bryce Rocks My Socks.
350 reviews542 followers
November 26, 2022
it's going to be a while before i start feeling anything again

those last few pages BROKE ME. the whole book there were a few tears but i was, like, "ok i got this I'm chilling" and then its up to the very last page where the author inserted a fail-safe plan just in case you haven't cried yet already. and boy did i cry- niagra falls crying, the great canyon flooding, drowning my pores, all the works. so, moral of the story, my face has these little track marks that i now have to go to work with so thanks alot.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,403 reviews1,850 followers
November 1, 2021
I am totally shocked that a book I expected to love, or at least like, barely rates the latter. Once again, the concept is better than the execution.

It's really hard to be invested in a tragedy, and in grief, when the main character is just.. unlikeable. Not because she's meant to be. But she just fails to be charming, sympathetic, consistent, or.. well.. likeable. I couldn't understand why this poor dead boy had loved her for so long or why people were so inclined to be so nice for her. I know, it sounds harsh, but I'm not being mean for fun. I'm truly baffled. I kid you not, there's a line in the book that says 'the empathy from being a writer' is what makes her connect to another person's pain. Pain she had been happy to ignore twice before; not to mention.. you don't need to be a writer to feel for other people? And she routinely would forget to do this all the time in light of her own feelings? So.. make it make sense?

Listen, everyone's grief journey is valid. I'm not saying she isn't allowed to throw away her boyfriend's things, delete any and all texts, voicemails, and photos, and literally purge his existence from her life.. all of which she does in the opening chapters. But she would also act surprised every time someone else was sad, or mentioned him, or was processing their own grief, and in between those bizarre realizations, she could be unfeeling, rude, oblivious, and just self-absorbed, all while being sad and processing her own grief. Eye twitch.

Despite this enduring connection to Sam after his death -- I mean this literally, he picks up the phone when she calls him, after he's died -- I never once understood the connection (I said it twice in one sentence on purpose because it was used something like sixty times in this book and I swear I'll see the word "connection" on the back of my eyelids when I sleep tonight). We had numerous flashbacks to their early days, some bits in the middle, and honestly they were both pretty much bland potatoes. No character, really, had much of a personality which I mean sometimes does happen with the window dressing second characters but I didn't quite expect it from the romantic force driving the book, too.

Also, can we talk about the fact that this special connection.. wasn't so special after all? Like, I don't want to say more because spoilers but that.. I mean, why? How? Why? So many little things just don't line up or seem to make sense, really.

We'll just call this what it was : a flop. Between the uninspiring writing combined with the lack of emotional resonance, this is a story that has a mishmash of the most basic YA tropes, though not even done well, with the unique hook of having a magical phone that connects to a lost loved one to reel you in. Nothing more. Would not recommend.

1.5 stars

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,337 reviews298 followers
November 13, 2021
This is such a raw, powerful story. Julie being right at the end of the high school, with all the plans that Sam had, it really felt like a double death - not just Sam, but all of the future plans they made, the colleges they planned to attend and the apartment she dreamed of them living in as adults is all washed away too.

You've Reached Sam isn't without it's flaws - I felt like the adults in Julie's life never fully gave her the space I would expect for someone who's boyfriend of three years has just died and there were moments when the story wouldn't quite hit the level of emotion needed.

However, the final chapter before the epilogue was so perfectly written, so devastating, that I stopped being able to see the screen through the fog of tears. This book was an anticipated read for me for many months, and I'm so happy to say that it didn't let me down.


this book already broke my heart and i haven't read it

Profile Image for Booktastically Amazing.
470 reviews389 followers
December 11, 2021
~👑Special thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!👑~

Happy book birthday, baby!! You didn't shatter me, but I hope you do that to a lot of people!

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This didn't break me.
And I'm sad about that.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟⭐ 4.0

Being the smart, intelligent, soulless being that I am... you would THINK that I have a semblance of something in my head. You know what I have? ~static~ Ergo, why I went into this book LOOKING for a heart-rending, shattering, soul spilling story which would wake me up at dawn in reminiscence of its pain and make me bawl my eyes out.


When I read a 'sad' story, I expect to be a sobbing mess by the end of it. Which I was. A mess that is. Sobbing, well, depends on how you take the term. There were slight traces of watery liquid which may be venom or tears (we'll never know) in my eyesperes, so of course, my nose was looking like Rudolph the Reindeer. Shout out to that guy, the first thing to make me cry. Thank you.

The characters were what I might think of (I know, me. Thinking. Pffftttt) as the weak link. I never grew to deeply love any of them, so their actions didn't affect me as much as I would've expected. This is not to say that they were bad, because they weren't, however, for me to adore a book I need to at least care for the background charcaters. See, they all had personalities, and they all had their own problems, but it was such a lukewarm relationship between them, I was left aghast as to why they weren't connecting more.

The MC was extremely infuriating at times. And yes, I do understand her grief, and we all have different ways of coping with it (personally, mine is food and annoyance), but even before she lost someone whom she didn't deserve (*smirk), she was extremely whiny, and frankly not a very interesting person.
I said it.
She was dull.
I shall hide now.

The thing is, I really wanted to like her as a person. I wanted to feel every inch of heartbreak, alas, I felt a small portion of that same emotion that I was craving to experience (again, why am I like this). I loved how strong she was at times, but it faded into nothing once I started realizing "dang, this girl is a piece of work". Why? Well because she couldn't keep promises, was sadly naiive and obviously didn't have the brain to begin to comprehend NOT TO TURN THE DANG PHONE OFF. One scene, y'all. ONE scene. And she messed it up.

You know what messed ME up? Sam. Wow, such a smart decision from yours truly! Who would've thought that Booksy would've fallen for a dead guy.

I thought that. Because I frighten myself sometimes. I'm that idiot that falls for the guy who dies in movies. The kind of idiot that clearly smacks against the glass because she didn't see it. The kind of IDIOT that got her heart shattered at the end of this book. That was one of the few moments in this story which physically hurt me. And I don't know what to feel about that.
This guy was so utterly sweet, and emotionally gorgeous (it's a thing). The way he spoke, and acted. The amazing relationship he had with his parents, how he was the bestest friend, and especially how he tolerated the MC for three years. I could NEVER. All of those tiny things mounted together and sprinkled with slight mentions of death, all of them made me connect with him way more than the rest of the characters mentioned in this book. I wouldn't say that I truly fell in love with him, because I didn't have the time, but I will say that he was an amazing boyfriend and an amazing reason to be emotionally numb for.

The rest of the characters as previously mentioned, didn't do much for the story, and I would've loved for it to be otherwise. Alas, not all happily ever afters are possible.

Speaking of happily ever after, let's talk a little about the plot. (y'all see that transition? It took me four hours to get it right *snort*) It was staggeringly well done, of course, some small inconsistencies peeved me but I can say that I enjoyed it immensely. The intersecting memories, the heartbreak imbued into each sentence and word, the surprising connection between past/present/dream/reality left me gobsmacked and flodding my GR updates with "OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH, I KNEW IT". Which I deeply apologize now. *snort* I adored the way my soul shattered at the ending pages and absolutely loved the fact that I sat in shock for awhile after that.

Three things I can mention about the plot are:
1. It made me sad at times.
2. It made me frustrated at other times.
3. Ultimately all ended in me feeling numb. (and dumb, but mostly numb)

The writing also made me feel numb because it encompassed so many emotions. Also, it was so dang quotable.
And it doesn't help that the ARC sample looked like this. (I couldn't quote so bear with me, please)

If I could put washi tape on E-Arcs, trust me, I would've found a way.

Leaving off with a small mention of the romance:

It basically called me single in 678902938476478 languages.
And I kind of feel okay with that.
Ha! No I don't. I'm not that mature.

On a closing note, this book had a lot to give, and I feel like it worked well with what it had (make of that what you will *snickering*). It was a nice 'sad' read, and I hope that it's a testament to the book not being sad enough that I didn't cry and not because I am a stone rock. Which slightly works, but I identify as smudgy pretzel.
All in all, it was entertaining, and I think if it had better character building, I would've enjoyed it a hecka lot more.
I still want to throw whatever the heck the MC's name was, under a truck.

I would most likely recommend this book to those who are slight masochists and want to feel something, once in a while. Who obviously want to tear up in the last chapter and come on, if you don't like it, I can read your rants! Oh, And you could maybe skip all the MC's lines. They are of no consequence.

Disclaimer: Any and all opinions said up there are my own, and please feel free to call me out for any errors or any offensive comments, so I can get right on it and get it fixed!

My awesome friend and I changing the name of this book never fails to remind me, woah. We're a different kind of special.

Son of Sam
Bye Bye Sam
Hey Sam, it's Me
Sam yo it's your homie
Sam I miss your face
I Miss You Sam, it's Sheila
Sam I miss you

Calling Sam, Please Hold
Sam this is the voicemail
Running with Sam
Sam is you present
Sam, where art thou?
Sam, get yo food

Hellooooo, it's me. I was woooondering if afterrr all these years you'd like to meeeeet. Sorry, the opportunity was too much to miss.


Pshh! It's not going to end like that.

I SAID it's not going to end like that.

Why is it ending like that.

Oi, listen to me.

It ended like that.


I received an ARC (thank you Netgalley!) and am doing everything to not read it.
I- I don't think I can do it.


Okay so, *claps* life is being too nice to me.
I am getting suspicious.

[insert excessive fangirling moments filled with copious mounds of O MY GOSH, IT GOT ACCEPTED, OH MY GOSH]

I'll go and get on my coffin now.
Thank you.


Kill me, why won't you? I don't have a basement, but I have a bookshelf. Donate the pieces of my body to be made into books.


I'll be so destroyed.
And I'll love it.

Why? Because I'm a masochist.
Profile Image for Era ➴.
215 reviews521 followers
May 20, 2022
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an ARC!

Hm. Okay.

The synopsis sounded like it was promising a heart-wrenching sobfest that would leave me wrecked and in tears. It didn’t.

Sure, it was sad. It made me feel emotions. But they weren’t very strong emotions. I wanted a screaming-and-crying heartbreak type of thing, and what I got was me staring at my tablet thinking “well that was sad”, frowning out the window, and then continuing like nothing had happened.

The plot was pretty good. After her boyfriend Sam dies in a car crash, Julie doesn’t know how to cope with her loss. In desperation, she calls Sam’s phone. And Sam picks up. Their connection is temporary, but Sam assures her that it won’t end until she agrees to say goodbye for the final time.

For me, it felt a little bit repetitive. The plot was Julie’s flashbacks about their romance, her conversations with Sam, and how the people around her were reacting to Sam’s death. There didn’t feel like there was a lot of direction except for their “final call” deadline. It just didn’t feel like there was enough happening to fill the book.

I wasn’t bored, exactly. It’s just that there could have been more that happened in this amount of pages. For example, in the beginning when Julie is running around (or something like that) - was it really necessary? I was questioning what happened when Julie ran to the cemetery and then back home again.

It’s an accurate portrayal of grief to feel emotions that make you desperate for something, or make you do things that don’t seem rational, but I don’t know how much of that was really significant. There’s a balance between showing Julie’s emotions to contribute to the plot and showing Julie’s emotions as something that takes up space in the book.

The grief representation was overall done pretty well, but some of it didn’t feel right to me. I know that everyone grieves differently, but that was actually one of the problems - it felt like all of the other characters were grieving in the same way, and Julie was the only one feeling different.

Julie handled her shock and grief by giving away all of Sam’s things and staying inside on her own, skipping his funeral, etc. She basically locked herself away from everyone and everything in order to cope. And then everyone else got mad at her for not being with them and “not caring about Sam.”

She was asked things like “Do you know how alone I was? Do you know how much I needed you? Why didn’t you go to the funeral, don’t you care?” by all the other characters - so she was basically guilt-tripped about the way she grieved. Which is...wonderful. It’s not like it’s incredibly fucking hard to face your grief and acknowledge a death.

This wasn’t anything wrong with the book itself, it just didn’t feel right to me as someone who still has trouble dealing with grief. It didn’t sit right when Julie had to apologize to everyone for not being there for them, when it’s perfectly valid to need some time to yourself to figure things out and cope.

The romance felt a little bit cliché, but it was pretty nice. Julie and Sam were a nice couple. I can’t say I shipped them, but the romance was the core of the plot and it did work, so it was good. The execution was done well (again, kinda the same thing as any other romance, but still).

The plot...honestly could have been done better, in my opinion. There were so many questions that could have been answered. I loved the idea of the storyline, but it left a lot to be desired. I had a lot of questions. Actually, they were questions stated in the book that were never answered.

Why do Sam and Julie have a limited number of calls? Sam says they’ll be able to talk until julie is ready to say good-bye, but then their calls start running out. That doesn’t seem like waiting.

Why can’t Julie share the phone calls with someone else? All Sam says is that their connection might be disrupted, but how can neither of them know for sure? What was the reason for this?

How does Sam even know what’s happening? He just says stuff like “I feel like” or “something tells me” whenever Julie asks him questions. He’s supposed to be alone somewhere, since whenever Julie asks him what he sees, he’s never in an inhabited place. So how does he know what’s going on with the whole phone calls thing?

I feel like this book was trying to use the “no one knows what’s beyond death” thing to its advantage by not providing concrete answers, but it didn’t work for me.

The characters were all great, but there wasn’t a lot of layering or development. They were pretty flat.

Julie didn’t really seem to change throughout the story. While it’s true that character development isn’t entirely necessary and can be a lot to ask sometimes, it felt disingenuous with the book’s storyline being about closure and having the main character pretty much not change at all. Over the whole plot, Julie’s perspective didn’t really seem to develop and she didn’t really “learn” anything, which doesn’t go with the whole “learning to let go” plot that the book was supposed to focus on.

I did like Mika though. She was definitely my favorite out of the characters (not saying a lot, but still).

Wow. This is a short review by my standards. Maybe it’s because I don’t remember a lot of the book.

Overall, I was expecting this book to be a lot stronger. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. There were some parts that I liked and some that I didn’t see the point of reading. This book was trying to be emotional and hard-hitting, but it wasn’t working for me.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
531 reviews34.5k followers
July 4, 2021
*I received this ARC from NetGalley and St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to read this book!*

When I got an ARC of “You’ve Reached Sam” I had a lot of mixed feelings. On the one hand I was looking forward to read this book because I was very intrigued by the concept and the idea of being able to talk to your loved one even if the person is already dead, but on the other hand I was also worried because I was pretty certain this would hit close to home. I won’t go into detail here but suffice it to say Julie and I have way more in common than I’d like to admit.

This said “You’ve Reached Sam” had the potential to be a great book and in some ways it was, but in others it unfortunately didn’t live up to my expectations. There were a lot of things I liked about this book, like for instance the realistic portrayal of the different ways to grieve. Everyone is different and therefore everyone grieves differently. There’s not just one way to grieve, there are about a million. Some people might throw away the things of their loved ones because they can’t stand to look at them, others might collect every little item that had to do with them and cherish it for the rest of their lives. Some might withdraw from the world and others will decide to live life to its fullest. Everyone is affected differently and every person tries to cope as best as they can. There’s no right way to grieve and I loved that Thao gave us multiple reps and ensured that this was addressed. It was a very realistic approach and I’m thankful for it!

Another thing I liked was that we had an Asian rep in here and that it was done nicely. It’s rare to come across Asian reps in books but Thao provided us with a couple of Asian characters and I’ll always be happy about that! =) The portrayal of the character cast’s healing process was great as well and I loved some of the metaphors that were hidden throughout the book. In many ways this was an easily readable book that kept my attention until the end.

Still, there were some things that didn’t work for me, one of them the simple fact that the storyline began one week after Sam’s death. For me this was way too early and yes, you can criticize me for this statement all you want, but I think it made the entire story less believable. A lot of the characters were already at a point you only reach after a couple of weeks or months have passed, so for me this resulted in the fact that the timing was totally off. There are seven stages of grief and Julie was already at 3 and 4 when the book began. Mind you, we’re talking one week after Sam’s death. Some people might take that at face value and it’s okay if they do, but as a person who basically went through the same thing Julie did, this felt wrong to me. A week after almost everyone is still at stage 1 and to be honest some remain at that stage for a couple of weeks or even longer. (I’m no psychiatrist, I only speak from personal experience here.)

So for me, personally, the timing was off. There were a lot of things about Julie’s behaviour I couldn’t relate to and I’m sure if some time would have passed between Sam’s death and her actions everything would have been more realistic. Maybe due to that the story didn’t hit me as hard as I thought it would. This had all the makings to cause me to cry into my tissues but instead of crying my eyes out I found myself kind of emotionally detached. I had the feeling the entire story was just touched at the surface; that we got to see the tip of the iceberg but that we never got deeper than that. Of course this could also be an “it’s me not the book thing” but I guess we’ll never know.

All told, “You’ve Reached Sam” is still a great book with a diverse character cast and a lot of different and well done grief representations. This book might not have had the impact I expected it to have, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good. Thao’s writing style isn’t only effortless but also easy to read and I’m definitely looking forward to read his next book. For a debut novel this was actually pretty good.


I’m on BookTube now! =)

This was a good book and I liked a lot of things about it, but for some reason I wasn't as emotionally affected as I thought I would be?
Mhmm... I will sleep over this and think it through.

Full RTC! Stay tuned! ;-)

I got an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher and already spoke about it in my ”ARC Book Haul” BookTube video.

So now that I spoke about how ready I am to read this I’m actually reading “You’ve Reached Sam”.
I guess I better prepare some tissues and hope I’ll be able to make it through this. *crosses fingers*
This is going to be a tough read but it’s now or never.

Wish me luck! =)

P.S: The cover is beautiful. Love the colours! <3
Profile Image for CW ✨.
644 reviews1,692 followers
April 4, 2021
Read my full review on my book blog, The Quiet Pond.

I received an uncorrected bounded manuscript from the author. This does not influence my opinion in any way.

When I finished this book, I had tears mixed with snot sliding down my face. I plan on reading and reviewing the finished book come November, but here are my preliminary thoughts:
- The book really resonated with me because one of my most intense fears is losing someone I love. And this book is that fear in book form. For Julie, this fear becomes a reality - and it follows how she grapples with his death.
- Fans of Your Name/Kimi No Na Wa, I think you'll love this. The fabulism mixed with its very real and genuine portrayal of grief, love, and the connection that we have with others is beautiful.
- You will probably cry. and cry. and cry. just like I did. Because death is unimaginable, but letting go is impossible. And if you've ever lost someone, this book is for you.

Friends, you need to read this book and suffer just as I did.
Profile Image for Kevin (Irish Reader).
274 reviews3,932 followers
December 9, 2021
Beautiful. Just beautiful.

TW/CW: death, grief, loss of a loved one

This book was one I picked up due to the hype I saw all over TikTok, and it did not disappoint. This book’s depiction of grief was the main reason I love it so much. Dustin Thao really encapsulated the many ways in which we all grieve. We see how different characters grieve in different ways to each other, some being able to accept the loss, others not able to let go, and I just really love that the author didn’t shy away from how difficult, heartbreaking and dark the grieving process can be. The story had me from the prologue, and I just couldn’t put it down. My favourite chapters were those written like a dreamscape, in which we get to see the relationship the two characters had. It made me fall in love with both of them and ultimately broke my heart.

For more of my thoughts/reactions to the book, you can check out the video I did on my YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/ZjZe-D4ODN4
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
696 reviews1,073 followers
August 18, 2022
3.5 ⭐️

“Letting go isn’t about forgetting. It’s balancing moving forward with life, and looking back from time to time, remembering the people in it.”

A heartfelt YA read. At times maybe leaning toward the younger YA age range, which is entirely fine - but I do think it missed out on some depth because of this.

Sam and Julie have been dating for 3 years when he dies suddenly. This book deals with the aftermath of the grief and finding a way forward.

The relationship sometimes seemed a bit too good to be true and granted, we only see Sam through Julie’s memories so he doesn’t really get fleshed out as a full character.

But the themes were so important and I loved the different characters. Unsure why Julie gets so much hate in reviews? She just seemed like a young girl struggling to deal with her emotions.

Overall, a good read and I would be interested to see what the author does next.


Library copy available for pick up

I don’t think I’m emotionally ready for this.
Profile Image for ❀ Rose ❀.
303 reviews249 followers
November 22, 2021
2.75 stars.

📕 Overall feelings:

📚 This… had so much potential. The premise made me believe that this book had the markings to be a five star read. The plot sounded absolutely amazing. However, the execution failed on so many levels that I don’t even know what to say. I think that my biggest problem with this book is that, in my opinion, this sort of premise and this sort of topic are too good to be dealt with in a YA setting. The story should have explored themes of death and grief but given the fact that this is intended for a younger audience, the author barely delves into these topics, which was this novel’s biggest downfall.

📚 I’m in the minority here (as usual😩) so y’all will probably end up liking this more than I did! Give it a chance if you like YA and if the premise sounds interesting to you! Anyway, here’s a short review to encapsulate my rage:

DISCLAIMER: I understand veryyy well that people cope with grief and loss in VERY different ways. We all process emotions differently and that’s completely fine (and normal). I’m not trying to say in any way that if a person doesn’t cry or doesn’t explicitly state that they’re sad it means that they’re not… that’s not at all my intent here. However, I still believe that the portrayal of grief in this book was wildly inaccurate and unrealistic. I understand that this is a YA novel and that it’s catered to a younger audience but I still think that all the important themes in this book were just simply overlooked (which is honestly such a shame imo).

📚 What I expected:
- A story about grief. A story following a teenager who just experienced the first real traumatic event of her life.
What I got:
- A story about a girl who somehow is kind of fine after two weeks of her boyfriend’s death and who functions pretty well in my opinion.

📚 What I expected:
- A story about dealing with grief and how people will often try to support you during such a hard time.
What I got:
- A universe where a teenage girl doesn’t get a second chance or an extension on her homework because the teacher thinks that she didn’t have a convincing enough excuse as to why she forgot about the assignment… by that point, Sam has been dead for a week and a half.

📚 What I expected:
- A girl who gets so overjoyed by the chance of reconnecting with her dead boyfriend through the phone that she prioritizes her calls with him over everything else.
What I got:
- A girl who can very easily *not* call her boyfriend because she has “a hundred things to focus on—schoolwork, graduation”…

⇨ Now I know that I’ve never been able to communicate with the dead before but if I were given the opportunity to do so, I highly doubt I’d be focusing on homework to be honest.

📚 What I expected:
- To see Julie go through the motions and try to come to terms with the fact that her boyfriend is dead.
What I got:
- A book where Julie’s only sign of grief is that she doesn’t go to any of Sam’s vigils and doesn’t attend his funeral because she simply can’t.

⇨ I would actually understand this one if the readers were given any indication that she was having a hard time in another way… other than have her just tell us that she is).

📚 What I expected:
- A book where the author would create a unique explanation and reason as to why and how Julie could connect with her dead boyfriend.
What I got:
- No explanation whatsoever to any of the questions that I had about the supernatural elements in this story (what a missed opportunity).

📚 What I expected:
- A teenager who gets support from her friends and peers while going through a hard time.
What I got:
- A bunch of teenagers who bully Julie for no reason and tell her that she killed Sam.

⇨ About this one… I understand that teenagers can sometimes be extremely mean. Hell, most of the time I’m scared of them myself. That said, we have got to stop portraying people from this age group as these heartless, stupid, unbelievable beings. If anything, I would have thought that having Julie experience survivor’s guilt would have been a hell of a lot more believable than having other people randomly tell her that she killed her boyfriend. But I digress, maybe some teenagers are actually like that and I’ve just never met them?😅


The premise reminds me of a Korean movie called “The Call” -which I absolutely LOVED. Imma be reading this.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rose_books2/
Profile Image for Sandra Sloop.
58 reviews4 followers
February 17, 2022
The rage I feel, having wasted two days reading this abysmal, fake-grief, pretense of a love story is so red-hot that it may consume this page before I finish writing my review.

The story idea is simple: a grieving girlfriend discovers that she can talk by cell phone to her boyfriend after he dies. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you’ve probably thought of, dreamed of, pleaded with your god for the opportunity to share one last conversation. Why couldn’t I have gotten to read THAT story?

Instead, I had to read You’ve Reached Sam, a story whose pacing, writing, and character development are so amateurish that it may have been written by a somewhat immature ten year old with the help of his mom’s thesaurus and some garage sale Trixie Belden books. By the way, that immature ten year old wrote this dreadful book in first person even though he has no idea, apparently, how women of any age think, speak, or feel.

Also, the grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors are distracting. (Yes, I know I’m reading an uncorrected proof but it’s not like this was typeset from a hand-written copy. This isn’t the 1900s, folks. I have to assume that the author turned in a manuscript full of errors.)

The MC, Julie, is profoundly unlikable. She is grieving not because Sam died but because SHE lost HER boyfriend. Julie is whiny and self-centered and carries around such a big ole bag of “woe is me” that she doesn’t have any room in it for empathy or true grief. She’s cruel to her grieving friend, mean to her mom, and even unkind to her dead boyfriend and his entire family. She literally thinks to herself that she needs to call Sam because he’ll understand how difficult her day has been. Seriously. She calls her dead boyfriend to complain about her school day. Could she be any more shallow? No, no, she could not.

No one would believe that Sam and Julie are in love from their brief, banal conversations. Where is the pining? Where is the heart-wrenching good-bye, that conversation that makes you cry, even as you realize that Julie is going to be okay and that Sam is ready for whatever comes next? Instead, they talk in cliches like disinterested neighbors who occasionally see each other in the shampoo aisle of their local grocery store.

Let’s just ignore that we will never get a clear explanation as to why she can call (but not text) Sam. I have other questions of equal importance. Why can Sam “feel” that there are problems with his family (and what’s the point of having this in the book)? And why is Sam the only one who can help them? What is going to happen to his family when he can’t call Julie anymore to get them out of trouble?

Why does Julie run around town looking for Sam when she knows that he’s dead? Why does she have a glowing selenite crystal? Also, how many flat secondary characters -- Mika, Yuki, Taylor, James, Oliver, Jay, Rachel, Liam, Julie’s mom -- are too many to include in a story? (The answer is the endless number that the author added to this book; all of his secondary characters are as flat as Stanley himself.) What does it all mean? Why should we care?

There’s a lengthy -- and I do mean lengthy -- prologue that, I guess, is supposed to make us like Sam and Julie so much that we’re grieving for them too but it’s a hot mess of clunky writing that attempts to blend memories into something like a camera fade in a movie. Major fail. It’s hard to follow and is so deeply one-sided that all we know at the end is that Julie sure does like herself but maybe doesn’t like her boyfriend that much.

The author includes page after page, scene after scene, of Julie wandering, frequently in the rain, sometimes as darkness falls, sometimes because she has to get away from whatever cliched pressures the author decided that Julie is supposed to feel, pressures, by the way, that are so tired and overused that they’re cringy and boring, almost as cringy and boring (and manipulative) as THE voicemail. (If you read the book, you’ll know what voicemail I mean.)

Finally, I hate … nope, despise is a better word … that the author aims his intellectual snobbery at community colleges, as though attending a CC is some sort of punishment that Julie has to endure because she didn’t get accepted to the school of her choice. What a terribly disrespectful thing to do. Community college is not a punishment but reading this book certainly was.

Pass on this book, folks. There are so many others much more worthy of your time.

Read all my book reviews on my book blog: bookbuzzblog.com

I received a NetGalley digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Steph.
542 reviews269 followers
November 23, 2021
okay. here's the thing. i was promised a romantic magical realism tearjerker that would turn me into a puddle of sobs, and that's what i got. it made me tear up right off the bat, and the emotional ending made me weep.

tragic love story between a heartbroken girl and her recently deceased boyfriend, whom she can still call on the phone? yes, of course i wanted this book to break my heart. (i actually waited to read this when my partner was around so i could get some much-needed comfort snuggles)

HOWEVER. despite the fact that it delivers on the crying front, you've reached sam is an extremely disappointing read.

🖤 here's what went wrong 🖤

‣ the writing is weak. it's all telling and no showing! the narration of our protagonist, julie, is ridiculously rambly and repetitious, which really takes away from the experience of grief that the reader is supposed to be empathizing with.

‣ for me, the book falls apart as soon as it becomes clear that all of the characters are flat. all of them. julie's friends and parents, sam's family, and the random bullies at school all feel like rough outlines of characters. none of them feel real. and even sam and julie themselves feel flat. i think sam is kind of a manic pixie dreamboy?? and again, this takes away from the emotional resonance of the story.

‣ we've got a whole lot of cheap cliches going on here. one-dimensional bullies who are mean for no realistic reason! dramatic fight with said bullies! julie's extreme guilt about sam's death (but for some reason that stops being a thing and is never resolved??)! thao had a lot of ideas, but they're all jumbled together, and none of it feels real.

🖤 but here are some things i did enjoy 🖤

‣ chapters about julie's current life and grief are interspersed with chapters of before, which show us romantic moments from julie and sam's relationship. some of these are cliche, but i'm a softie and i enjoyed them anyway. and these before sequences are very dreamlike and cinematic. i think this is when thao's writing is at its best, and i could definitely envision a movie version!

‣ we have a lot of asian rep! sam and his family are japanese-american, and many of julie's friends are asian, too. i especially enjoyed seeing multiple cultural perspectives on death and grief. sam's cousin, mika, talks about tradition and the need to honor those who have passed. it honestly would have been great if the book had delved deeper into this!!

‣ it's occasionally meta (aided by the fact that julie is a writer). for example, this conversation about why julie likes movies that make her cry:

I wondered why someone would want to intentionally experience that. I think I figured it out. You want to feel something. Something meaningful, and intense. You want to feel that thing in your heart and stomach. You want to be moved. To care about something, or fall in love, you know? And you want it to feel real. And different. And exciting.

i think that's what thao was trying to do here: make us feel. and that passage got me primed for my cry sesh at the end of the book, which brings me to...

‣ the ending BROKE ME. (SPOILERS)

so. this book absolutely let me down, but it was still able to bring out the mushiest side of me. i love the themes of loss and letting go, and it's interesting to read something that takes place primarily within the denial stage of grief. terribly romantic and terribly sad. but it's disappointing that the story never really comes to life. it has such an intensely emotional premise, but much of it feels like a dream being narrated within julie's head.

if this book is on your list, my advice would be to read it, but lower your expectations first. i think thao has a lot of potential, and i hope his next book will have stronger execution!!

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review. Quote is from the ARC and is subject to change upon publication.
Profile Image for Grace (kanej & evajacks' version) .
234 reviews135 followers
February 5, 2023
This was so good!! 🥺🥺 I did expect to enjoy it bc of the hype, but it still surprised me how good it was. Utterly heartbreaking but so so worth it 😭😭❤❤

“I missed you. I missed you infinity.”

You've Reached Sam follows Julie Clark, who has very definitive plans for her future- move out of the small town where she's living with her boyfriend Sam; go to college in the city; and spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything falls apart. Heartbroken and desperate to hear Sam's voice again, Julie calls his phone just to hear his voicemail recording. But Sam picks up the phone. The connection is only temporary, but hearing his voice makes Julie fall in love with him all over again, and it becomes harder and harder to let him go.

“If the ending is this painful, I don’t know if this was worth it at all.”

This is a very sad book. The pages feel enfused with sorrow and it is definitely very grief-heavy, so it can be very difficult to read. Definitely don't pick this up if you want something fun or lighthearted. But I was looking for something very emotional and full of depth, and this book definitely delivered on that! ✨

There's so much I love about this book. Starting with the characters! The characters in here were SO well-crafted and I really fell in love with them throughout the story 💗 Sam is actually amazing- so sweet and loving, and the way he treated Julie so well made my heart melt 🥺🥺 It made me so incredibly sad reading about him knowing he was dead bc I loved him sm!! 😭😭❤❤ Petition for there to be a sequel where Sam is alive again bc I can't actually accept he's dead!! (I know this'll never happen, but let me dream okay?)

I also really liked Julie! 😃 Her grief felt very real and genuine and my heart really went out to her. She was so well-developed she honestly felt like a real person!! I know a lot of people don't like her, but I don't get it. Yes, she may make some questionable choices and not be fully considerate of others, but she was dealing with a lot and didn't know how to cope, so it's understandable. Real people make mistakes like that, so I really connected to her 💗

I also loved Dustin Thao's writing 💖💖 It was just beautiful and conveyed a lot of emotion. I found it very easy to digest, which was great in a book with such heavy topics. I would love to read more by him!! 🥰🥰

And the themes were also really good. This book obviously talks a lot about grief, and I really liked the way it was handled. It felt very genuine and realistic, showing how heavy it can feel and how it can overwhelm all parts of your life so all you feel is sadness. However, it still had some uplifting notes throughout which helped lighten the tone of the book overall. We definitely need books talking about grief, and I think this one is a great pick ✨

Also, Sam and Julie's romance?? Even in flashbacks, it was the sweetest, more pure thing ever 🥺🥺 So heartfelt and incredible, and the fact that they can't be together anymore CONSTANTLY BREAKS MY HEART 😭😭💔💔 This romance was honestly better in short flashbacks than some romances in books centered purely around it. Seriously, it was that good ❤❤

“We are two parts of a song. He is the music. I am the words.”

Overall, I loved this sm!! 💗 SO sad, but SO good nonetheless. I would absolutely recommend if you want:

✔ Very important themes
✔ Lots of emotion
✔ Beautiful writing and well-developed characters
✔ A 'sad book' done right

Now just excuse me, I'm gonna go cry in a corner for a bit 😭😭🤧🤧

~ 4.5 stars


This was amazing!! 💗💗 It did break my heart a bit 😭😭💔💔 but it was worth it ✨

Profile Image for Katie Colson.
649 reviews5,808 followers
July 1, 2022
Okaaaaay! Two things can be true.
Was this book well written? In my opinion, no.
Did this book make me sob so hard I had to lay on the floor to catch my breath? Yes.
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
684 reviews246 followers
May 17, 2021
You've Reached Sam was easily one of my most anticipated releases this year. That being said, I was disappointed to find it pretty mediocre. The side characters were two dimensional, and the plot didn’t evoke as much emotion as I expected.

~★~ What is this book about? ~★~

Julie is left heartbroken when her boyfriend, Sam, tragically dies. She threw out his things and missed his funeral to try and forget, but desperate to hear his voice one more time, she calls him intending to listen to his voicemail. And then Sam picks up the phone. Julie believes this is her last chance at goodbye, but Sam’s time is more limited than she knows.


It wasn’t long before I knew this book wouldn’t live up to my expectations. The first chapter was compelling with a flashback to how Julie met Sam, but from there her character grew a bit irritating. She would treat her friends pretty terribly due to the loss of her boyfriend, not realizing that they, too (Sam’s best friend and cousin) were missing him just as much, if not more. Regardless, her frustrations were understandable due to the circumstances. Sam was likeable, but I don’t think there was much depth to his character. A few memories paired with Julie’s phonecalls weren’t enough for me to feel attached to him. Most of the side characters didn't serve a purpose except to emphasize Julie's character development, which I didn't like.

In my opinion, Thao’s writing was just okay; it needed more substance to make up for what the characters lacked. Don’t get me wrong, there were certain moments that made me emotional but to be honest, reading this synopsis led me to believe I’d ball my eyes out like many other reviewers said they had. It’s unfortunate, but You’ve Reached Sam was one big “meh” for me.

Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for the arc!
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