A future forever altered by tragedy, Julie is overcome with grief after the passing of her first love, Sam. Closing herself off from the world around her, she makes a call to his old cell phone..just to hear his recorded voicemail. But Sam picks up…

“I know this wasn’t part of our plan, Julie. But at least we had this time together, right? I want you to know…if I could do it all over again, I would. Every second of it.”

I challenge anyone to get through the first 30 pages of ‘You’ve Reached Sam without completely losing control of their emotions. Every. Damn. Page. I was tearing up, and that’s just not like me. The fact that this story could physically hurt my heart is proof that the writing is brilliant.

If you’ve ever lost someone, Sam and Julies love story is going to cut the deepest. But even if you haven’ will still have a profound guttural reaction to their journey.

Congratulations, Dustin Thao, for making me ugly cry. I didn’t think it was possible. What a way to make an entrance! I hope to read more of your work in the future.

This brings me to the first location of importance: Wenatchee Valley Museum

Wenatchee Valley Museum

‘I told her I was writing about Sam. But I don’t want to remember Sam as a tragedy. I don’t want that to be his story. When people think of Sam, I want them to think of his best moments.’

The author of You’ve Reached Sam does a solid job of using flashbacks to create an emotional investment into Julie and Sam’s love story. While the book takes place in the present, Julie relives a continuous series of memories, reminding her what she’s missing and feeding her grief.

These flashbacks include Sam and Julie’s initial conversation at the coffee house, the museum where Sam asked her out on their first date, afternoons spent listening to his music and simply talking. All of these moments are crucial to building out their story. This sob-fest is a journey into finding love, loss, and having the strength to go on. But never forgetting…


This brings me to the Second location of importance: Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold Youve Reached Sam


Sometimes, dreams mean the opposite of what they show us. That we shouldn’t understand them exactly as they are. It can mean something in our life is out of balance. Or maybe we’re holding in too much. Especially when we lose someone, dreams show us the opposite of what it is we need to find balance again.”

There are so many questions and regrets that we all experience after losing someone special to us. Taking the concept of “What if you could say goodbye” and spinning it into an actual afterlife connection….such a beautiful idea by the author.

But in You’ve Reached Sam, the focus is not solely on the feelings of the two main characters. The emotions of the supporting characters are examined as well. Mika, Oliver, James…even Julies mother has a part to play.

Releasing the lanterns at Sam’s secret place, the field of gold, by the tree in the lake…was a powerful scene. And the ending..well, just when I thought I had pulled it together, the last few chapters hit even harder than the rest.


If you’re interested in learning more about this Young Adult Contemporary Novel, You’ve Reached Sam and author Dustin Thao or would like to purchase the book, please check out the links below.



Barnes and Noble

Author Website

If you liked this post, please follow the link to my other YA Contemporary book reviews.