Thao, Dustin. You’ve Reached Sam. Wednesday Books, 2021. ISBN 978-1250762030 340 pp. $18.99
On the precipice of graduation, Julie and Sam can’t wait to go away to college, get an apartment, and live the rest of their lives together. But Sam dies in a tragic accident, leaving Julie behind to cope with her grief and guilt–they had a disagreement before he died. Julie skips the funeral, school, and throws away every memento, and then, in a moment of anguish, calls his cell phone number. Sam ANSWERS.
The universe either magically gives Julie and Sam a way to say goodbye and find the closure they need… OR she is delusional in her grief and created the world she needs to live in to get through. It’s never explained, but it doesn’t matter; I believed that JULIE thought she was connecting, and it was what she needed to move on.
On the surface, Julie comes across as selfish, but the truth is, she’s just a young girl who lost her first love and boyfriend of three years. The path of grieving is different for everyone, and that has to be respected. There are friends (and sadly, teachers!) who don’t seem to understand this.
Something about the characters and their relationship didn’t quite resonate with me. It might be due to the distance;l we only see Sam through Julie’s eyes. Their intimacy is assumed but never really divulged. The epilogue is short sweet and frankly, unnecessary: a young adult novel should end with a sense of a new beginning, even if there is closure around a plot point or character’s development.
I received an advance reader’s review copy of #YouveReachedSam via #NetGalley.