Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Release Day Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

Title: Roomies
Authors: Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
Publisher: Little, Brown 
Published: December 24, 2013
Source: Publisher

Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Goodreads summary:

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.



When Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she sends an email to her soon-to-be-roomie in the hopes of pre-connecting with this stranger that she’ll eventually be living with.  A series of emails follows producing many ups and downs and a lot of mixed feelings about growing up, moving out, and starting a new life while sharing your personal space with someone who may or may not be your complete opposite. 

Lauren has too much family, and Elizabeth doesn't have enough.   Lauren’s mother and father are loving and very capable parents who are, in a word, amazing. I couldn’t relate to her having such a big family since I was not raised with any siblings and am the proud mom of an only child, but I thought the family dynamic was very absorbing and a lot of fun to read about.   

“…I have to save Mr. Potato Head. … 
Gertie lets out a dolphin-pitched death scream and when I turn around, 
P.J. has got one of Mr. P.’s ears and is about to run away with it.  
I grab her by the waist.  She screams.  Gertie screams. 
 If Mr. P.’s mouth were attached, he would probably scream, too.”

Since I normally break out in hives if I’m in a room with more than two tiny humans at a time, I was surprised by how delightful I found Lauren’s little brothers and sisters – especially Gertie, who easily captured my heart.  The most endearing thing about this family is the affection and love that this teen shows her younger siblings:

“Sometimes I think of them all together as a unit, 
a herd of creatures that need containment.  
Other times, like now, I see the individual miracles that they are.”

I connected with Elizabeth as an only child, but the big difference there was that I have very loving parents who were always extremely interested (and my teenage self would declare they were TOO interested) in every aspect of my life.  Elizabeth’s mother is trying to re-live her youth, and her father… well, he isn’t much of one, and what he did to Elizabeth broke my heart.  Elizabeth’s life is changing in big ways and her circle of friends seems to be quickly shrinking, so she finds herself confiding in her future roommate in their email correspondence.  

I love the emails between these two girls.  As bloggers, most of us have experience with forming relationships through emails, and it made the story all the more appealing to me having experienced this firsthand.  Though the girls didn’t bond immediately and they certainly had some rocky moments, I loved most of their exchanges and found myself extremely captivated not only with their communication but also with everything that was happening in their personal lives.  

Roomies is a coming-of-age story that is engaging and riveting.  It has a lot of depth to it and left me pondering what I would have done in this situation.  Is there a right or wrong answer to the dilemma that Lauren and Elizabeth find themselves in?  This book made me laugh as well as tear up several times – especially when picturing my own daughter leaving for college in a few more years.

I truly enjoyed every moment of this book, and I look forward to reading more from these talented authors. 

“Life is one of those experiments meant to be conducted 
in a stimulating, messy environment.”

My Rating: 1/2

Quotes included in this review are taken from the ARC and are subject to change. A huge thank-you to the publisher and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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