Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Title: Roomies
Author: Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
Series: stand-alone
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Publication Date: December 24, 2013
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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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.

Roomies Excerpt
Everyone remembers their first roommate.  I even shared my first roommate horror story here as part of the Roomies promotional tour earlier this month. When I picked up Roomies, I was expecting something more along the lines of an epistolary novel, a collection of email exchanges between the new roommates.  And while there are many emails included in this novel, there is also a separate and distinctive narrative for each girl.

On the whole, I think I connected more with Lauren's character, but I loved what each girl brought to the novel.  Lauren is a quiet, shy girl who's finally getting the chance to live away from her large family. And now that the time is approaching, she's having a harder time leaving them behind than she expected. Elizabeth, who goes by EB, is the opposite of Lauren in nearly every way. She's outgoing and popular and she has no qualms about leaving behind her over-bearing mother.  These girls couldn't be more different on the outside.

But the summer before college is a tumultuous one, and these girls find that they have one thing in common above all else:  they've each embarked upon summer relationships that may or may not have a future.  Though they use their email exchanges to discuss everything under the sun, they also help each other out with their romantic entanglements, which helps build the bond they'll need as roommates.

I was worried about the romances in this book, particularly because it is the summer before college and that seems like a time more for ending things than beginning them.  But freshman year of college is a time of new beginnings, so despite how difficult these relationships might have been to maintain, I liked that they didn't turn into summer flings, that they were realistic and that all parties involved seemed optimistic about the future and what it held for them.  But I also liked that each girl's respective romance didn't take center stage.

That summer before college is full of possibility, full of options.  These girls spend the summer figuring out what they want and who they want in their lives, and on their way to figuring that out, they find that they want to be a part of each other's lives.  Things may not have started off great between them, and there were definitely snafus when it came to interpreting emails and moods, but ultimately, I would have loved to have either of these girls as my roommate.  I think the authors each did a great job of portraying such a transitional time period in a young person's life.

GIF it to me straight:

About the authors:

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.

Find Sara:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Tara Altebrando is the author of The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life, Dreamland Social Club (Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens of 2011), The Pursuit of Happiness, and What Happens Here. She also has a middle-grade debut, The Battle of Darcy Lane (Running Press Kids, May 2014), releasing soon. She lives in Queens, New York, with her husband and two young daughters, Ellie and Violet.

Find Tara:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads


  1. I liked this one but I thought the ending was a little abrupt. :/ Other than that, I really enjoyed it. :o)

  2. Good review, thanks. I'm a school librarian and I've actually ordered this book already, based on the blurb. I'm hoping it will appeal to 15 - 17 year olds.


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