Authort: Dustin Thao
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary/Magical Realism
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.
I don’t want this review to be completely negative, but I always want to give you my true unfiltered opinion. And, truthfully, the story could have been executed better. The plot had so much promise, and I was hoping for a tear-jerking story. But, it didn’t live up to my expectations. The book started off a week after the male love interest, Sam’s, death. This was interesting, since most books don’t follow someone during the grieving process. This is exactly what the plot of the book was – watching someone, in this case Julie, struggle with their grief.
As the synopsis shows, there is a magical realism component in the story, which is that Julie and Sam can talk via phone to one another. The author’s take on this plot point was interesting, but different than how I imagined. I don’t know what I was hoping for – just that I wasn’t sold on the way this element was developed.
Julie as a character was just okay. But, it was annoying that she was clearly oblivious to the fact that she had Sam wrapped around her finger. She was willing to let him change all his plans for her, and forget about some of his friends in order to spend time with her. Their lives literally revolved around one another. Their relationship was frustrating to read about to say the least. Still, I guess that is how first love is for people.
“We are two parts of a song. He is the music. I am the words.”
Sam got on my nerves a lot. He was apparently such a devoted and kind boyfriend while alive, but in death he was kind of rude. At times he would snapped at Julie, even though she was doing things to make him happy. She might have occasionally overstepped, but he didn’t have to be so salty towards her. He always ‘unintentionally’ made her feel guilty about him dying. He claimed to want her to move on, but every time she tried to, he would make her feel bad about it.
All in all, I assume the moral of the story is that we shouldn’t live in the loss, and to not let grief consume us. You can’t hold on to the hope that the person you lost will come back. The only thing one can do is keep them in our hearts, and try to live on for them. The good thing about the book was that it was a quick read, which was nice for me.
However, I wasn’t emotionally invested in the storytelling. I mean, I didn’t even cry. I would recommend the book to fans of ‘If I Stay’ by Gale Forman. I have never read that book, but I did see the movie. For some reason, I find these two stories to be somewhat similar. Also, in ‘If I Stay’, there was the whole in between element, and I think that Sam was definitely caught in the in between.
Please give me your thoughts on this book, since I am probably going to get a lot of flak for this review. However, one thing is for sure – the book cover is stunning! Don’t forget to give my blog a follow.
Until The Next Chapter,