Book Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

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.

3 cupcakes

“Live in the present. Take care of the relationships in front of you now. Most friendships have a natural life, and when they’ve lived that out, you’ll know.”

The summer before university/college is a very critical time in one’s life: not only are you preparing yourself for the next big adventure, but you’re saying goodbye to everything that you have grown accustomed to and comfortable with. Roomies shows that change is inevitable (both personally and in terms of relationships), and that the road to adulthood isn’t always the easiest to cope with.

Roomies is also a great demonstration of how communication through social media or various platforms that aren’t in person/face-to-face is often ineffective. Since there isn’t any intonation aside from what italics can provide, and displays of emotion via emojis can only go so far, misinterpretations and conflicts often arise.

Due to the dual POV, readers get to know both E.B. and Lauren. While I didn’t form any real connection with either of the girls, they certainly had distinct voices and underwent a tremendous amount of growth throughout the book. The secondary characters were just as well fleshed-out and important, and both girls’ love interests were completely charming.

Overall, Roomies was a light, quick read that realistically deals with the transitory period between high school and post-secondary life. I sincerely hope that more new adult novels jump on this subject: not only is it interesting, but it’s relevant.

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