Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Review: Roomies

Title: Roomies
Author: Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | TBD

It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.


“I really need someone like you this summer. Someone on the outside who could look in with a different perspective.” 

When this book was on a ‘Read Now’ status on Netgalley, the first thing that caught my attention wasn’t the blurb but the cover. I remember saying, “Hey, that’s my room on the right side.” Somehow I knew I’d be able to relate to this, and I did in more ways than one. 

I have friends in real life but most of my friends are the ones I’ve met on the Internet. I can name a handful of friends online that I’m comfortable with but only a few in real life. So obviously, having a story between two girls who haven’t met but communicated via email would hit close to home. What surprised me was how I found myself in both girls. 

Elizabeth and Lauren were sort of opposites. Elizabeth, or EB, is an extrovert. She’s outgoing, confident and can easily strike up a conversation without being awkward. Their family doesn’t have a problem with money and seems well-off for her to bring appliances in their dorm room like it’s no big deal. She’s also into arts and landscaping. But despite the fun-loving side of her, she also has this hole she carries inside of her. She craves parental love and attention from both of her parents. She also worries about her friend too much and felt being left out even though she hasn’t gone away yet. In those parts, I can see myself in her and sympathize with her. 

Lauren, or Lo, on the other hand is an introvert. She rarely spends time socializing but doesn’t have a lot of alone time for herself either. Unlike EB, their family isn’t well-off. She is five younger siblings and wanted college to be her get away from her big family. She’s also very neat and kind of OC. 

Like most friends, these two have their own set of disagreements. It was also harder since they haven’t met yet and doesn’t really know each other well. On top of that, they have their own stuff to deal with especially with their family. 

Let’s not forget the boys. Both are swoon-worthy but I think I liked Keyon more. I liked the progress of his and Lauren’s relationship which started from being friends until it progressed to something more. Mark was like the perfect book boyfriend you’d meet on your vacation. He’s that person who’ll sweep you off your feet. 

The best thing in this novel is the characterization. I think the authors perfectly captured how teenagers at this age and stage would react to circumstances. The ending was great, too. It felt like a beginning instead of and end but this time, you’ll know they’ll be together in whatever challenge college life might give them.

This copy was provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of four novels for young adults: Story of a Girl (National Book Award Finalist), Sweethearts (Cybil Award Finalist), Once Was Lost (a Kirkus Best Book of 2009) and How to Save a Life. Her short fiction and essays have also appeared in Image, Hunger Mountain, and several anthologies. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, and online at www.sarazarr.com.

Tara Altebrando: In addition to my most recent novel, THE BEST NIGHT OF YOUR (PATHETIC) LIFE, I’m the author of three previous books for Young Adults, including DREAMLAND SOCIAL CLUB, which was a Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens of 2011, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS and WHAT HAPPENS HERE.

Next up is ROOMIES, a novel I cowrote with Sara Zarr (Little Brown, December) and then my middle-grade debut, THE BATTLE OF DARCY LANE (Running Press Kids, May 2014).

I live in Queens, New York, with my husband and two young daughters, Ellie and Violet.