Posts Tagged: Roomies

Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr

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Review: Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr
Sara Zarr, Tara Altebrando
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: December 24th 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.

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.
-A copy was provided by Hachette Book Group Canada for review-

An effortless, light read about college, friendship, family, and romance, Roomies is your everyday chick-lit that offers a few hours of entertainment.

I’ve always enjoyed stories that take place during the summer right before college. A time where you’re still young and mostly clueless, but starting to get out of your shell. That was Roomies’ main charm for me. We get two parallel stories with two separate girls who are leaving behind two completely different teenage lives. With that said, it’s a bit unfortunate how similar the character voices are. Still, both girls are easy to fall in-tune with, having that easy-going narration that makes it a breezy read. We’ve got Elizabeth – EB – who’s leaving a strained relationship with her mother who dates married men. Whereas Lauren is leaving behind a house full of very young siblings to finally have some quiet time – but is that what she really wants

These two girls form a particular relationship via email when they find out they will be each other’s roommates in college. This is a good display of how email communication can sometimes be perceived so differently on each end. There are no facial expressions or tonality; things can appear completely different from what you actually meant. Even moreso when both parties are living such different lives with opposite priorities. As you’d expect, this causes a few disagreements. While this is happening we get to know both girls individually, bringing understanding behind each dry reply, each dramatic reaction, and each judgment call. It was fun to get an outsider’s perspective of an online relationship. While I didn’t form a deep connection with either of them, I found myself relating much better to EB, and in turn enjoying her chapters more. Lauren, on the other hand, came off as quick to judge – or as EB would say: morally superior – minorly irritating me a time or two.

It’s no surprise that a book like this includes a romantic plotline – or two. This is one area where I preferred Lauren’s story. EB’s being more insta-love, more blasé about sex and the fact that she was leaving. In the end, though, I wasn’t swept off my feet by either romances. Them being simply a cute part of the book. In addition to the romance, we’ve got great – and crumbling – family dynamics as well as old and new friendships. Ultimately, it’s a book about growing up.

Quick note on the ending: I really really wanted to see them meet. Urgh!

If you’re looking for a light-hearted chick-lit read with girl-next-door personality and charm, Roomies is a good afternoon read. Imagine Sarah Dessen’s The Moon and More with a lighter touch.

3 Stars
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