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Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sara Zarr and
Tara Altebrando

Genre: YA/NA Contemporary
Hardback: 288 Pages
Publication: December 24, 2013
by Little Brown BFYR


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.

◆ A copy was provided by Little Brown for review ◆

The chapters are short and centered around the emails that the girls send. From chapter to chapter, there is a time skip to the point in time that a girl receives the email that was sent in the previous chapter. I was surprised by how a lot of backstory about the girls isn't included. We're only given the information that is immediately present in the girls' lives and information that they consider telling each other about themselves. It's a bit disorienting as first, as I tend to favor books with very well-developed characters. Nevertheless, I do appreciate how the usage of this technique centers the story on the communication between the two girls. This isn't an extremely deep and profound novel. It is a story about two girls sorting out their lives the summer before they go off to college and the consequent development of their friendship—all with a little humor and (okay, a lot of) drama thrown in.

I'm not really fond of the multiple perspectives when both are told in first person; however, I didn't face much trouble adjusting to the narration. Elizabeth and Lauren have fun, quirky personalities. They come from very different lives, yet their narrations entertwine beautifully. In spite of their differences, they go through a lot of the same things. If I have any complaint, it'd be how much they manage to hurt each other without really thinking about it. The point of email is that it should give you time to think things through, but the one or two times that it really matters, they don't use this time. They just email in a haze of anger. At the same time, it does show that no matter how bad things get, it's possible to overcome the situation if you can find it within you to apologize.

Though the emails play a large role in the girls' lives, the story isn't solely told through emails. There is an email in pretty much every chapter, but we also get to see what the girls do outside of the email exchanges. I enjoyed seeing the girls work through their changing relationships with the people around them and going through the process of accepting the big changes happening in their lives. Family is prominent in this novel, as well as their close girl friends and the new guys in their lives. It's rare that a YA/NA novel incorporates so many facets of the main character's lives, and I appreciate how Roomies manages to do this.

On a personal note: As a college student, I appreciate how it isn't all about the hot new guy and the sex like a lot of New Adult books tend to be—because college isn't like that at all (surprise!)—though this book really is a bit of a cross-over between YA and NA with the tone being more on the youthful side. I'd really like to see more books along this vein in the New Adult genre.

Overall, Roomies is an enjoyable read that makes for a fun, quick summer read.

Additional Information
  • N/A

  • Language
  • Makeout scenes
  • Sex (not explicit)

6 comments on "Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando"
  1. Not about the hot guy and sex sounds good to me. Books are becoming harder to find that aren't all about it, so I like that this isn't. I will have to add it, and try and find close to me. :) Great review, I am glad that you liked it.

  2. I really enjoyed this one too. I agree, it was more about the nervousness that comes with leaving home for the first time, and I thought that was great.
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

    1. I love how it centers on two girls leaving home for college and the changes that come with it. I'd really like to see more books like this because it's such a big time in life. Thanks for stopping by, Jen! :)

  3. I guess I didn't notice so much that there wasn't back story. I guess maybe because of the style of it? I'm not sure. I'm glad you ended up enjoying it, even if you didn't love it.

    1. The way the story is told, it keeps us grounded in the present with the girls. I might have noticed because I was curious about how the girls' relationships with their friends. They mention that they're both in fights with friends but doesn't give much background on what happened. Overall though, it was an enjoyable read, and I'm glad that I picked it up! :)


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