You’ve Reached Sam
Published November 9, 2021
About You’ve Reached Sam
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.
I love how out of the box this story is. The phone calls between Julie and Sam allow us to see parts of their relationship that often get lost during grief– like just the normal types of conversations or the way they kind of pick at each other, the way couples sometimes do when they’ve been together a long time.
The loss of Sam impacts Julie’s whole community, and she doesn’t realize until she begins talking to him again that she’s withdrawn not only from his family but from her other friends and even her own family. At first the calls seem to help her regain her feet and process her emotions. Eventually, they morph into something else, though. And it becomes more and more clear that the calls can’t continue forever or be an alternative to saying goodbye.
I loved the way music was present in the story. One of the songs that’s really special to Julie and Sam is a song called “Fields of Gold,” which I had to go listen to as soon as I finished reading the book. I’d heard it before, and listening to it again I felt like it fit the story so perfectly.
There are a couple places that I thought the story got a little bit choppy or seemed like it was summarizing things in a hurry to get to the next big moment. Other than that, though, I felt like YOU’VE REACHED SAM tells a beautiful story about loss that’s rich with emotions and celebrates the connections we make with the people in our lives. Readers who enjoyed WE CAN BE HEROES by Kyrie McCauley will want to check this one out, too.
Content Notes for You’ve Reached Sam
Recommended for Ages 13 up.
Julie’s boyfriend Sam is Japanese American. A minor character is gay. Other minor characters are Asian.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used very infrequently.
References to kissing. Sam and Julie go skinny dipping together in a lake.
Julie is able to speak with Sam through the phone, even though he’s dead.
A couple of fistfights.
Julie goes to a party where teens are drinking. She accepts a beer but plans to dump it out and refill the bottle with cranberry juice, a trick she learned from her mom.
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