You’ve Reached Sam

Wednesday Bks. Nov. 2021. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250762030.
Gr 9 Up–When Sam dies in a car crash during his senior year of high school, his girlfriend, Julie, finds her life and the future plans they were supposed to share completely upended. She tries to forget Sam by avoiding his funeral and many memorials, and even goes as far as to throw away everything she had that was related to him. In a moment of desperation and regret, she dials his phone number, hoping to hear his voice on his outgoing message. But Sam answers the call. He is still dead, but because of a mysterious connection between their phones, they are able to speak to each other. As the story progresses, Julie buries her grief as she refuses to let go of Sam. It isn’t until she realizes that she is hurting her friends and Sam’s family by pulling away that she considers that the connection may not be entirely a good thing. Although an interesting exploration of grief, the slow pace and ambiguity of the situation, as well as the time it takes Julie to grow, make the story drag. Sam is Japanese, and cultural references and anti-Asian sentiment are incorporated deftly and sensitively. Secondary characters are diverse and unique, but there may have been too many for Thao to manage successfully.
VERDICT While this is an interesting take on a person’s struggle to let go of a lost loved one, there are better examples of books dealing with grief. An additional purchase.

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