Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

RoomiesTitle: Roomies
Author: Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Published: December 24th, 2013 (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Pages: 279
Genres/Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, College, Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Rating: Three Stars
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.
Purchase: Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Book Depository
Cover Thoughts: I like how bright the cover is. The bedroom sitting really fits the story’s plot. It seems really youthful as well.
First Line: Sometimes there are signs.

~First Thoughts~

Aw, this reminds me of when I emailed my first college roommate and how nervous I was.

~Review~

I read this for a hopeful nostalgia feel that would remind me of emailing my first college roommate. This was the sole reason I chose to read Roomies. Overall I did have a nostalgic vibe when I read this, it made me want to go back to college, but also reminded me of that final summer before college when I was dealing with various obstacles myself.
I found the characters’ voices to be real. I like that they each had jobs, their own problems and were really believable. The alternating chapters were enjoyable as well. I liked how different Lauren and Elizabeth’s home lives were. Elizabeth is an only child who lives with her mother and has a gay dad who ironically enough, lives in California near Lauren. Elizabeth makes the first move to email her roommate Lauren.
Lauren has a big family with several siblings and two happily married parents. Elizabeth is happy to finally be getting away from her family and being by herself. This changes though when she gets paired up with EB and is less than thrilled with EB’s ecstatic email.
I could relate to each of the girls in various ways. I like how Elizabeth, aka Eb, had home problems that I found to be relatable. I like how Elizabeth and Lauren connected to each other over email.  As a person who’s used social media and built online relationships with people I’ve never met in person,
I found it to be fascinating how Elizabeth and Lauren talked to each other. Throughout the majority of Roomies they only email each other. I like how they didn’t use other means to communicate. Often times, Lauren and Elizabeth would experience something in their “real life” that they didn’t tell the other about. I thought it was interesting to see what they included or excluded. It was also interesting to see how they reacted to each other’s emails and worried about what to say at times.
I can definitely relate to both characters. I like how there were misunderstandings and worrying over their emails and why the other didn’t reply.
Being in that same situation, I found it to be realistic because with only typed words, it can be really easy to misunderstand something or take it the wrong way. I thought how Lauren opened up so easily in email because that’s easy to do when you don’t have to see the other person’s reaction immediately. I can relate to that.
I like how much family played a big part in Roomies. Elizabeth talks about her parents with Lauren.  Later Elizabeth ends up getting mad over an altercation Lauren has and some of the things she says regarding her parents. I thought this was realistic because although Elizabeth’s parents weren’t the best, she was still sort of protective over her mother and gave her father the benefit of the doubt.
I loved how despite emailing each other a bit, Elizabeth and Luaren had their own offline lives. They had families, friends, and romantic relationships. I felt the shifting friendships the girls faced to be realistic because people can grow apart before going off to college. It was nice to see how the girls dealt with their lives changing as they prepared to go off to college and each had to deal with various things.
I’m not sure how I feel about the relationship aspect. On one hand, I thought it was well done, but on the other, I thought it was a little unnecessary and a bit coincidental since they were both in relationships around the same time. 
~Final Thoughts~
At times I felt Lauren and Elizabeth were more like young high schoolers than soon to be college freshmen. The way they talked and acted occasionally made me think this. 
In a few reviews I read before ever reading this book, I discovered people had a problem with the way the ending was. I’m happy to say I was satisfied with the ending and didn’t find it to be incredibly bad.
There was a Veronica Mars reference in here which totally won me over and made the book worth reading. Not only that but the theme song “We Used To Be Friends” by The Dandy Warhols was recommended from one of the girls. 
I expected a little more from Roomies, but I’m not sure what. While Roomies wasn’t super great, I still found it enjoyable, though maybe a bit annoying at times. I would recommend it.

~Recommended For~

Seniors going into college
High school graduates
Anyone interested in people connecting online 
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About Amber (YA Indulgences)

Amber is a 20-something woman who enjoys reading, writing, listening to music and taking walks. She has a book blog called YA Indulgences . She is still trying to figure out what she's doing with her life, but she's confident that time will tell. In the meantime she's heading towards the goal of becoming a renowned blogger. View all posts by Amber (YA Indulgences)

6 responses to “Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

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