Dustin Thao’s Debut Novel, “You’ve Reached Sam,” is One You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

Dustin Thao’s novel follows the story of high school student, Julie, who lost her boyfriend in a devastating accident


Alyssa Masiewicz, Editor-in-Chief

  “You’ve Reached Sam” by Dustin Thao is a wonderfully written story about loss, grief, and learning to move forward after losing someone. If you’re looking for a good book to make you shed some tears, maybe even get in a good therapeutic cry, I can guarantee you this one will do just that. Be sure to grab some tissues, because I didn’t and often had to result to my sleeve (gross).

  The story starts off with Julie having a hard time coming to terms with Sam, her late boyfriend’s death. Julie finds herself skipping Sam’s funeral and shutting out everyone who cares about her, doing anything to keep memories of Sam and his death away.

  Determined to forget about Sam, she begins to get rid of anything that reminds her of him. She throws away photos, CDs, and even his denim jacket that he gave to her. Later on, though, she regrets acting so hastily and wishes she can talk to him one last time. Out of desperation, she decides to dial Sam’s number to hear his voice, even if it is just a voicemail.

  Except Julie doesn’t hear Sam’s voicemail. She hears her name.

  Sam picked up the phone.

  The connection between Sam and Julie is only temporary, and Sam can not tell Julie how the connection is even possible. Even though the connection is short-term, he promises to pick up her calls for however long he can, allowing them a second chance at goodbye.

  The story of Julie and Sam jumps between ‘Before’ and ‘Now,’ allowing us to see how they met, their first date, and the promises Sam couldn’t keep. But, along with these happy moments in the ‘Before,’ the ‘Now’ shows a struggling Julie trying to make it through the rest of her senior year.

  This book made me cry more times than I can count (I lost track after nine) and my heart physically hurt for Julie and Sam. Their story had me crying at 10:15 p.m. on a school night. To put it into perspective, I always go to bed at 9:30 p.m., but I could not put the book down nor could I control the waterfall coming out of my eyes.

  As someone who has dealt with the loss of a grandparent this past year, I could relate to Julie more than any character I’ve ever read about, and Thao does an amazing job of showing grief. Julie’s character even hit a little too close to home at times. That being said, I advise teens who have lost someone close to them to proceed with caution and be aware of any triggers before picking up this book because Thao really hit it head-on with his debut novel.

  “You’ve Reached Sam” is the kind of story where it never really leaves you. I felt a little empty right after reading it, not sure what exactly to do after finishing. But, despite all the tears, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who wants a good cry.