Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: ROOMIES by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Title: Roomies
Authors: Sara Zarr, Tara Altebrando
Publication date: December 24, 2013
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

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.

I thought it was fitting to read this since I was transitioning to college myself only a couple days after I finished. To me, this was actually realistic. While Elizabeth, called EB throughout, is from the East Coast, she's moving to California for college. I thought this unlikely considering her familial situation until she mentioned all the loans she's taking out. Because if I can barely go to college IN state, then how could she go to college OUT of state? When authors casually have their characters go out of state, making it seem like all the tuition is the same, it makes me grumble about the story.  Thankfully, that didn't really happen here. 

On the other hand, we have Lauren, the first born out of many who is trying to have enough money to go to the same college just a little bit away and in the same state. I felt THAT was really realistic. I didn't have this SUPER connection with either of them, but homesickness-wise, I knew where Lauren was coming from. I think I even liked her more than EB, but both had their positives. 

The romance is where I cross the line from one roomie to the other. Lauren's romantic prospect outweighed EB's WAY more. Way, way more. Lauren actually knew her guy before, they had a realistic rough patch, and I could see the connection between the two. For EB, that wasn't the case. It felt too much like insta-love for me. I kept going back and forth between whether or not EB should've even had a love interest because it seemed useless. But I can see the authors wanting to portray a different side, kind of like a summer fling. Their feelings for each other felt too rushed though. 

Because I just moved to college, I liked how the authors made the whole transition for each of the girls relatable. It's stressful. Emotions are running high. Conflicts arise. Fears heighten. Everything just seems a little too MUCH at once. Lauren is dealing with insecurity, change, and homesickness before she even leaves home. EB is dealing with leaving everything behind, her family, and unmet expectations. They have problems with each other. They have problems with people around them. THAT'S NORMAL. For me, I felt like I became snappier through the transition because of stress and the newness of it all. When I had a rooommate glitch, I just finished the book, which meant I had gone through EB and Lauren's glitches. I can't say how much that actually helped me, to have read someone else's problem's, even though they were fictional.

I might have problems here and there with the story, but overall, it was just what I needed.

Verdict: Realistic, fun story of two future roommates before school starts. 

To promote the book way back when it was first published, they had people tell their roommate stories. What was your roommate story? 


  1. My roommate and I are so similar, it's not even funny. We've had a few disagreements since we started sharing a room last week, but it hasn't been too bad. She just likes the room SUPER cold and she keeps wanting to stay up later than me. But she's been great when I'm not feeling well and she's been a shoulder to cry on.
    How do you like your roommate?

    1. That's so great! Not the disagreements (although, the first ones are out of the way, so that's good!) but that you're so alike and everything's been pretty good!
      She just moved in today actually so she seems nice, but I haven't interacted with her in person.

  2. When I went off to college, I lived with three other girls in the dorm. One was a total stranger, one was a classmate in high school and (I got REALLY lucky here) one was my best friend! Our first year together was a bit crazy, as we got used to each other's personalities and quirks. But we settled quickly and we've all been friends since then (that was 9 years ago!). It's really cool to get to know someone that well, and have a pseudo-family when you're away from home.

    I just read Roomies recently too! I really liked how the authors captured that feeling between graduation from HS and entering college so well in all its happiness, sadness, doubts, anger, adjustment. It's really solid, and I liked it a lot.

    1. That's so cool! I heard it might be difficult to room with a friend you knew before, but it's good that it was still nice for you. I met my floormates yesterday and it feels like we've known each other for a way longer time.

  3. I love these types of books, and this one sounds like a great read. I loved Sara Zarr's book, Sweethearts, so I'll probably love this collaboration as well. Thanks for a great book review - I'm definitely going to check this one out!

    1. I haven't been too much of a fan of Sara Zarr before now, but I loved her this time!

  4. I had a single my first year of college, so this didn't really apply to me. But I still I think I would somewhat enjoy this book! I usually wouldn't read anything like this, but since it has a college setting rather than high school, I think I would enjoy it! Though I'm not sure about the whole romance thing/drama going on

    Awesome review Summer!

  5. I love that you read this book the summer before going to college! I thought about doing the same thing, but that would have involved a two-year wait, which wasn't going to happen. I also love the fact that your review talked mostly about how realistic the character's experiences are - between Roomies and Since You've Been Gone, it seems like you picked the perfect books to read before heading to university. :)

  6. Yay! I'm glad you found the right book at the right time! I was actually a commuter for all of college except my semester abroad (during which I slept horribly between the giant killer mosquitoes and my roomie stumbling in drunk at 3am); but I figure, like anything else, as long as you communicate with your roomies and are willing to let the little things go, you should be good. Best of luck! :)