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.
The second I close my eyes, the memories play, and I find myself back at the beginning.
not my cup of tea:
Sadly, You’ve Reached Sam is pretty underwhelming.
It’s hard to get behind a love story that’s forced upon you from the first pages. Thao keeps feeding you back story, almost manically, in an attempt to prove how serious you should take this teenage relationship, but there’s no depth or feeling behind it. I didn’t believe them as a couple – the entire relationship seems based on making Julie happy, and this pattern continues despite Sam’s death.
None of the other characters left much of a mark – they’re all orbiting Julie and putting in time when her narrative requires it, but there’s no motivation behind any of their actions. Bullies are mean because they’re bad people, parents offer support awkwardly because that’s their job, and friends plan memorials because they were friends. It feels shallow and uncomplicated and makes it difficult to connect to anyone.
The whole metaphor for life and loss and letting go is done very clumsily. Julie’s phone magically doesn’t work when she’s connected to Sam, she drops a rose from someone else because she’s talking about Sam; it’s all so obvious, so it was more cringe than emotional.
I’m not sure if you can tell, but I didn’t really get anything meaningful out of You’ve Reached Sam, and I didn’t particularly enjoy the read, either. I’m trying to find a specific type of person or moment that I could recommend it for, but I’m coming up blank.