If I Stay meets Your Name in Dustin Thao's You've Reached Sam, a heartfelt novel about love and loss and what it means to say goodbye. How do you move forward when everything you love in on the line? 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. 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. What would you do if you had a second chance at goodbye? Filled with a diverse cast of characters, the heartache of first love and loss, and the kind of friends that can get you through anything, plus a touch of magic, You've Reached Sam will make an instant connection with anyone looking for a big emotional romance of a read.
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However, Sam picks up the phone. The phone becomes Julie's lifeline, and she cannot stop talking to Sam through this supernatural connection. As they talk, Julie starts to connect with the other loved ones Sam has left behind and find a way to move through her grief. But how can she ever really say goodbye to the boy she loves?
What I loved: This was a really moving read about loss, grief, and guilt. Julie's pain is pervasive and will feel familiar to people who have also experienced loss. The story slowly shows her moving through it, as well as the people she is connected to who are also coping with the loss of Sam. The magical realism element of the phone calls helps Julie with moving through her grief. The way they talk and the way that echoes in Julie's life really shows the healing and appreciating the past while looking forward. Some people will always stay with us.
The book does not have any big twists - it is really what is promised at face value. The perspectives that Julie gets from Sam and her friends also adds to the story, as the reader sees the way several characters have dealt with grief and the way that their connections help with healing. The story also includes stories from the past as well as the present to give further understanding to Julie and Sam's relationship and the beauty of all the small moments.
Final verdict: A heart-breaking story of grief and loss, YOU'VE REACHED SAM is a YA magical realism read about healing and moving on. Recommend for fans of AMELIA UNABRIDGED, THE SKY ABOVE US, THE VOICE IN MY HEAD, THE GHOSTS WE KEEP, and THE TRAGEDY OF DANE RILEY.