How do you move forward when everything you love in 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.
What would you do if you had a second chance at goodbye?
A beautiful heartwarming novel about grief, love and acceptance. Dustin Thao’s debut novel is strangely warm despite its topic as we join Julie on her journey of grief after her boyfriend, Sam, dies.
“Letting go isn’t about forgetting. It’s balancing moving forward with life, and looking back from time to time, remembering the people in it.”
Now aside from its stunning front cover, this book has been on my radar for well over a year now but I was determined to wait until the paperback came out. My poor shelves are struggling! I’ve heard beautiful reviews about this novel but I was determined to go into it with an opening mind.
The plot was beautifully crafted filled with past memories, future dreams and Julie’s present life. The reader witnesses just how debilitating and all encompassing grief can be. Julie’s struggle to move on is something many people can understand. Trying to accept that someone you love is never coming back is heart-breaking and you can see how much Julie’s life revolved around Sam.
“We are two parts of a song. He is the music. I am the words.”
However, there’s also underlying discussions of acknowledging that the future isn’t what we may picture it to be. Life is unpredictable and unfortunately, beyond our control. We can make a million plans with someone in our life but it may not always work out that way.
And it’s the same for careers, friends etc. We all have a rough idea of what we want our future to look like and sometimes the toughest pill to swallow is acknowledging that it may not happen how we want it.
Interestingly, whilst Julie was undoubtedly the main character, Sam’s character reminded me that I need to live in the present. Stop holding back on doing things just because I feel I have the future/my whole life ahead of me. Life is to be lived and there’s still so much to learn and see.
I did find it a bit repetitive in some places but I think it’s somewhat to be expected given the nature of the topic being discussed in the book. And those last two chapters…I cried my eyes out and considering I hadn’t cried since May…I’d say that’s a massive achievement.
“You are my entire world, Julie. And one day, maybe I’ll only be a small piece of yours. I hope you keep that piece.”
I’m sorry this line completely finished me. Sam had my whole heart!
A brilliant debut novel for sure! Very excited to see what Dustin writes next!