Monday, November 25, 2013

Review: Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr (ARC)

Roomies by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr
Little, Brown BYR, 288 pages
Expected US Release Date: December 24, 2013
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours
- thank you!
Challenges: New Adult Challenge, Contemporary Challenge, Stand Alone Challenge

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.
----------------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
After a few days passed and the sting of it all started to fade, I realized something: if two or three of the most important people in your life are telling you something and you are resisting it with everything you have, there is a distinct possibility that what they are saying is true. That you are wrong and just don’t want to admit it.

When I first read the premise of this book, immediately I tried to recall how I introduced myself to my first college roommate. Did we email incessantly? Did we talk at all? First year of college seems like it was ages ago (in reality it’s only 8 for me), but I barely remember contacting my roommate before we eventually moved in together. Times were different back then, sure; this was back when Facebook was still, and you still had to have a verified college email to join it and you were only in your college network. ANCIENT, I know. I know I emailed my roommate before (I’ll call her Emcee for the sake of this); and Emcee and I discussed the usual fridge/microwave situation. We may have even discussed colours (though I doubt it, since hers was every shade of purple possible whereas I was strictly blue. I don’t think we’d have coordinated to look like a bruise). But beyond that? Emcee and I remained a mystery until we shared a 10x10 cube.

After reading Roomies, I think that may have been the best idea! Sure, neither of us are as extreme as EB or Lauren (we were both from California (me from Southern California, her from NorCal), but we definitely would have meddled in each other’s lives.

The point of this ginormous walk down my memory lane is that Roomies made me reminisce like crazy. Which is hilarious, since my first roommate and I weren’t (and aren’t) particularly close…we’re Facebook acquaintances at best, and have been since second year of college. But there was such an edge of familiarity throughout all of EB’s and Lauren’s correspondence that made me miss all my college days and friends. Dormmates and roommates and friends alike.

Both girls had endlessly dramatic summers, and I was so swept up trying to keep up with both of them. I wanted to be able to give each of them advice at the same time as listening to what the other was saying with everything I had. I love that both girls are different – but going through such similarly opposite things. Family, but one has an endless amount while the other lacks it. Boys, the problems and fresh starts. Leaving, which could mean growing up or just moving (or perhaps a bit of both). I sincerely wish I’d had this book when I was going through college, because I think I could have found a few sorely needed friends within it.

So, here’s something I’m a bit ashamed to say: I’ve never read any books by either Sara Zarr or Tara Altebrando. I own several by both-but never actually read. So it might not mean much when I say I can’t tell who wrote what parts, but that’s the truth of it – both girls are distinct from each other, but the style is so flawless throughout the entire book I would never have thought two people wrote this book. I still have no idea if one took the character of the other, or if they worked on both together…there’s a fluidity in each that makes you fly through the pages.

And I do have to say, having read Roomies, I definitely want to read those books by Sara and Tara now – I’ve heard how amazing they both are, and this just reinforces what I’ve heard, for sure.

While I was reading this book, I know it’s a solid 4.5 star – though I can’t quite pinpoint why it’s not 5. Perhaps because it is quite serious; there are some funny parts, but it’s so dramatic and insular upon itself that I think I would have liked a few more parts to lighten it up. For them to really become friends through good, rather than through their problems. I know that’s how a lot of us bond together, but sometimes I just wanted them to discover they both like to rock climb, you know?

I did love their little Yes/No/Maybe to what they were bringing to college in most of their emails. Such a fantastic little touch that really gave a great movement to the story in such little bites.

Roomies was spectacularly done, with that new friendship to keep you riveted and the same raw familiarity of struggling to connect and understand a person in your life. There’s emotion and connection, both on the pages and when you read, and I can’t help but think this is one of the better reads of 2013…and perhaps ever.
4.5 Stars

1 comment:

  1. Alexa S.November 26, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    I'm VERY excited to read roomies! When I was at college, I shared a room with three of the best girls I've ever known -- and who still happen to be my best friends to date. I think it'll be interesting to read a book that will discuss the roomie relationship!


Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Have a wonderful day <3
***This blog should NEVER have a security captcha - please let me know if you encounter it and I will fix ASAP. Thank you!