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You've Reached Sam

·1466 words·7 mins·
book-swap 2022 reading-challenge-2022
Jerry S
Jerry S
Table of Contents


I was rummaging through my local Target and saw the cover of the book “You’ve Reached Sam” written by Dustin Thao. The cover reminded me of the times I’ve had to hang up during heart splintering calls and the immense bitter disorientation of the silence that comes after. How does one hang up the phone when the person they’re talking to is going to disappear forever?

Summary of the Book

You’ll find this summary on every website that sells the book and you’ll even find it in the inside cover of the book itself; #noSpoilersHere. It can give you an idea of what the book is about but it isn’t until you live through a reading that you can appreciate the impact.

How do you move forward when everything you love is on the line?

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.

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.

My Journey With The Book

I went on a literal and figurative journey with it. I seem to do my best emotional healing when I’m traveling. I bought the physical copy of the book in Target like I mentioned but I could not finish reading it before a trip I took to Europe. I didn’t want to be carrying the full bulk of the book and ended up buying a second digital copy on my e-reader. I read it like I do most books: bit by bit and reflecting on each bit after reading it. That’s why I think it takes me too long to read anything. :-D, that or I get distracted too easily.

It so happened that I was reading the ending while on a long TGV train ride to the south of France. I could feel the emotional snowball of the ending coming but I kept going. Before I knew it I turned in a silently crying mess, holding in some sobs so I didn’t disturb anyone near me. I picked up a new skill this past summer of 2022 and furtively crying in public is now a skill I’m better at. Who knew it would come in handy? I sure as hell did not.

I looked a little like this guy during the ending, but without the hair style. That’s my travel companion thinking “wtf is wrong with this guy”? I’m kidding, this is from the show Stranger Things Season 4. But this is definitely how I cried.

After I felt composed, my travel companion asked me what the book was about. Had they noticed my mewling? I proceeded to recount the end of the book all the while reliving it and holding back the full power of the flood.

Mission accomplished.

Only some minor moist made it out.

Favorite Quotes

I avoid full spoilers in the quotes below. Sometimes the parts I took are downright misleading, but per my usual motivating driver I collected some of my favorite quotes.

I tried to pare it down to the best of my best.

“Please tell me what’s going on, Sam. Tell me why you picked up.”

He says, “I wanted to give us a chance to say good-bye.”

No spoilers here since this is part of the book description. Who wouldn’t want another chance to say goodbye?

Sam stays with me on the phone for the rest of the night and we talk until I fall asleep. Just like we’ve done a thousand times before.

Wouldn’t it be a nice fantasy daydream to just go back to the way things used to be?

I remember he said later, “I’ll show you them another time. I promise.”

He never kept that promise.

This one was saddening for me because it is something that I have tried to improve in myself. Waiting is not always the best choice. The time can be now! (sometimes)

There are two times I can think of in my life that I waited to say “I love you”. I was waiting until I meant it.

I wish I had felt it sooner, meant it sooner, said it sooner.

Maybe next time.

As I listen to the song alone in my room, I suddenly realize I will never hear Sam sing it for me, and that “Someday” never came.

Not having someone in my life any longer instantly makes me think of the futures that I’ll never get to live with them. It’s best not to dwell more than needed, but it happens anyway.

As much as I hate to admit it, maybe he’s right. I should prepare myself for a world where nobody is on your side or willing to help you out even when it costs them nothing at all.

This felt ever more relevant in today’s world where people are less willing to put up with the discomfort that is the price to pay truer friendships and relationships. But, if I’m not willing to pay the price of discomfort to build relationships…and no one else is…where will we end up? Where will I end up?

What would Sam think of me if he knew this? If he knew I wasn’t the same person he fell in love with?

No spoilers here since we all know the book summary already spoils Sam’s death.

My opinion on this is that Sam is dead, but even the dead judge if we submit ourselves to their opinions. If that helps someone be a better person it can be useful. For those that can conjure the spirits of the deceased or the absent to consult with it can be both a blessing and a curse.

To hear someone’s voice in the rustling fall leaves.
To have a conversation with them when no one is near.
To suffer the harsh judgement of someone that no longer has any physical grip on this world.

It has its benefits and it has its burdens.

“Maybe my dreams are another place we can find each other.”

“I wish that could be true…”

I don’t have many dreams when I sleep. I’ve been told many times that I dream and that I just don’t remember them. That may be true, science says it is. My point of view is that I dream while I’m awake and when I sleep I rest.

…I had it all planned out. It was supposed to be special. I didn’t know I would run out of time.

This one is similar to the one above about “someday” never coming. Death can be a such sobering medicine.

What would you do if you knew your death was coming?
What trips would you take?
What people would you tell off?
What things would you break?
What things would you learn?
Who would you say I love you to?
Who would you call?
What would you do?!

Well death is coming, isn’t it? We all know it is. What will I do?

For some reason I seem to spook people because I will more readily engage in conversations about death and mention it more freely than others. I try to use it as motivator for life. Others seem to think they can avoid it if they don’t acknowledge it and that mentioning it draws it nearer. That somehow it’s morbid and life draining. Humbug!

Especially when we lose someone, dreams show us the opposite of what it is we need to find balance again.

This one is just wonder provoking. I’ll have to dwell on it more. Like I mentioned above, I don’t remember many nighttime dreams but also no one in my life that is truly important to me has died. I’ve lost friendships but I’ve rarely dreamt of them in my sleep.

“Like little cracks in the universe. And another world is peeking through.”

I feel bad putting this here but I haven’t given it all away. It’s an amazing description the author constructed to describe something. I won’t tell you what it describes. You’ll have to read the book. These are truly two of the best sentence fragments in the whole book.

I listen to his voice mail until I have it memorized, and I don’t need to play it anymore.

Many many many years ago I stumbled onto a voicemail that I didn’t know was still saved. I heard it a few times and then left it where it lay. My phone company deleted it automatically because eventually the message was too old.

I didn’t have the strength at the time to hit the delete button. I probably still wouldn’t have the strength.