Book Reviews

Review: You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

I knew that You’ve Reached Sam was going to be emotional, but I was not prepared. I say, “it wrung every emotion out of my heart” a lot, but I was in literal tears while finishing the book. You’ve Reached Sam is a tender, emotional story about grief, love, and friendship. Keep reading this book review for all my sobbing.


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.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: racism

You’ve Reached Sam is a powerful debut about love and loss. I’ve been more and more excited for this ever since it was announced, then the cover revealed, and now. Immediately You’ve Reached Sam comes for the feels. From its poignant title, we realize that we only hear the phrase, “you’ve reached” when we are speaking to an answering machine. Faced with a tone to pour our heart out in the hopes someone will listen, that they will rush to the phone, that they will return our call.

Julie’s story phases from the pain and lashing out of grief to not being able to say goodbye. The ways grief and loss always seem to be mirrors to ourselves reflecting our own feelings of guilt and regret. How we think if we remove the mementos, the pain goes away, but it never does. Love and loss are stamped into our heart. And grief comes in waves. With this mysterious telephone connection, Julie is given a chance that anyone who has lost someone will attest is tantalizing – the chance to say goodbye. But for Julie, is this last lingering connection hurting more than helping?

The Pain of Goodbye

The truth is: it’s hard to say goodbye. That knowing our final moments approach pulls at the fragments of our heart. We always ask ourselves, tell ourselves, what we might say if we had one chance. Would we like to know we weren’t blamed? That they weren’t mad? That they loved us? It’s those maybes. The what ifs that haunt us. In our lives, all these moments pass by us as inconsequential, part of a routine we will follow forever, until forever ends. And then they become moments we missed.

Yet, when we hold on to the past, we forget the present. We miss friendships and the seconds that ground us in the now. You’ve Reached Sam is about these emotions. About plans that never happen like we think, but when we get so caught up in following them to the letter, the happy coincidences in the ways they evolve escape us. The way they can transform into things we love and treasure.

(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. For more information you can look at the Policy page. If you’re uncomfortable with that, know you can look up the book on any of the sites below to avoid the link)

If you’re searching for an emotional story about grief and love, look no further. Find You’ve Reached Sam on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite book that examines grief?

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