Review #143

Title- You’ve Reached Sam

Author- Dustin Thao, a Vietnamese American

Series- standalone

Rating– 4.1/5

Genre- YA contemporary

POV- first person, present tense

Trope- lost love, coming of age, grief stages

Steam level- 0/5

Cover– on target

Comps– “If I Stay” is all I could think of

Plot/Blurb-

Seventeen-year-old Julie Clarke 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 belongings, and tries everything to forget him. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces memories to return. Desperate to hear him one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cell phone just to listen to his voice mail recording. And Sam picks up the phone.

The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes Julie fall for him all over again and with each call, it becomes harder to let him go.

What would you do if you had a second chance at goodbye?

First chapter- The start is great. YA with a chance to break my heart. I’m unsure if something mystical is going on with time from the hints about her mom and the memory jumps or not. I can’t wait to find out why and how Sam answered her call post-death. Her grief already feels super realistic. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose a boyfriend at that age. A close classmate passed away my senior year of high school, and their hit hard but I can’t compare the two since I wasn’t dating him.

Character Development- she needs to learn to let go and move on

Best part- when I almost cried when they talked about Sam’s mom and the boxes of stuff

What I would change- making me really cry

Setting- sometimes the dream sequences were confusing

Prose- average

Character goals/motivations- she didn’t have too much agency

Theme- learning to let go, yet hold onto memories simultaneously

Vivid sensory descriptions- yes

Dialogue- sometimes their chats were a little repetitive

Diversity- Side characters, Oliver and Jay, have MM relationship. Multiple characters are of Asian descent and they established an Asian Student Group. I don’t recall anyone with disabilities.

Ethics/morals- Sometimes I was frustrated at the judgement implied regarding how someone grieves

Conflict/tension/obstacles- satisfactory. I wanted the climax scene at the end to be a bit bigger

Pacing- medium

Thoughts while reading-

Page 90- things are a bit repetitive

Page 114- oh man. Good stuff. I hope I cry later. It’s setting me up

Page 122 – omg I adore Mika’s character 

Page 139- epic realism in that dream sequence

Page 192- the broken phone excuse to her friends seems to be inconsistent. She received messages. Also, things need to start moving forward a bit more now.

Page 220- oh the symbolism is perfection.

Page 255- more amazing metaphors! I love it.

Ending- Page 292- Well, I didn’t cry, but I liked it  Someone please find me a book that’ll finally make me cry

Published by CassieSwindon

Fiction author

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