REVIEW: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Title: Roomies
Author: Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: December 24, 2013
Pages: 288
Source: Library

Summary from Goodreads:
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.

Roomies is a really great story that I think many will connect with. Maybe, like me, you'll reflect back on your own college roommate experience, or maybe you'll look ahead and think about that day to come. Maybe you'll even learn a thing or two. A lot can change in the time leading up to and after you leave for college - friends, significant others, family, scenery, habits - and Roomies does a great job of capturing it all. And with the POVs of both Elizabeth and Lauren - two very different girls leading very different lives - readers get to experience 2x the change. It's a wonderfully well-rounded, relevant story and I had a lot of fun reading it.

The variety in Roomies was my favorite thing about the story, but there were so many other admirable details. I loved that the girls didn’t see eye to eye on everything. They actually had a few disagreements and had to work through some of their differences. I appreciated this so much because the odds of getting along perfectly with someone you are randomly paired with are slim and I thought it was honest of the girls to voice their opinions even if it would be easier to just agree.

I also loved the part that email played in this story. Elizabeth reaches out to Lauren through email when she first learns they are paired together as roomies and that is how they communicate throughout the book. The chapters alternate POVs and in almost every chapter, weaved into the rest of the story, the email chain is continued. And it just so happened that they both needed each other to talk to, someone separate from their everyday lives that they could open up to who would maybe understand. They took risks and shared pieces of themselves and they grew closer that way.

However, at the end of the day, Roomies didn't leave quite the impression on me as it seems to have left on everyone else. I think it's a strong contemporary and a worth-while read but it didn’t pack the feels for me as some of my other favorite contemporaries. But I don’t mean to say it is any less great or memorable. I do recommend this one.
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