April 21, 2014 by Bernadette ~ The Bumbling Bookworm
Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
Publisher/Year: Little, Brown Books, 24 December 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: I borrowed it from the library!
Other books from Sara Zarr: Sweethearts, How to Save a Life and many more…
Other books from Tara Altebrando: The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life, The Battle of Darcy Lane (coming 22 April 2014) and many more…
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.
What I Thought…
I follow a lot of book blogs, and it is for that reason that I feel the need to start this particular review with a disclaimer: before I read this, I read A LOT of blog posts about Roomies. Many of these posts were raving about how AWESOME Roomies was, and I allowed this to build up my expectations of Roomies. I was really excited and pumped to read Roomies because in my mind it was going to be the best book ever… Because of this, I was ultimately disappointed when I readRoomies, because it didn’t live up to those extreme expectations. It is for this reason that I have now decided not to read a lot of reviews for books I want to read, especially right before reading said book. Hopefully, I won’t fall victim to the hype machine again!
Roomies is written in alternating POVs, switching each chapter between Elizabeth in New Jersey and Lauren in San Francisco. They have been assigned as roommates in their freshman year at UC Berkeley, and the book takes place in the sixty-five days before they meet. They start sending each other emails, emailing back and forth and getting to know one another before they begin rooming together. They share things with one another that they haven’t even shared with their closest friends and family. Of course, since they don’t know each other that well, they have many misunderstandings along the way, some bigger than others.
The writing in Roomies was coherent and cohesive, which is a feat in and of itself given at this book was co-authored. I felt anxious when reading from Elizabeth’s point of view, her anxieties projecting off the page. By the same token, Lauren’s disdain was also leaping off the pages. I enjoyed that they weren’t instafriends – instant friendships and instalove are two of my biggest bugbears. The building of the friendship between the two felt organic and realistic. They’re reserved in the beginning, more so Lauren than Elizabeth, but slowly they begin to open up. This quote from Lauren’s POV sums up the beginning of their communication quite well:
I mean, she’s not here, she can’t see into my life, I can kind of be whoever I want to be with her for now.
The romance didn’t feature quite as much as I was expecting; it was there, more so for Elizabeth than Lauren, but it seemed to be a bit of an afterthought. The real focus of this novel was the building blocks of the friendship between the two main characters, but from the synopsis I thought there would be more romance. I was also a little disappointed at the ending; it ended where I expected it to, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it! Whilst I totally understand the ending, I’m the type that needs to know definitively to some degree how things end, and this was a little too open-ended for me.
I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I thought I would, which was a real bummer. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the story and it was entertaining, but I was waiting for this real “wow moment” which never came. Essentially, it didn’t leave me with any particularly strong feelings and I think I was the victim of the hype machine with this one.
Rating: 3 Stars
What about you, have you read Roomies? Did you enjoy it?