Dec 30, 2013

Book Review: Roomies - Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

Title: Roomies
Author: Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
Release Date: December 24th 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: eARC from NetGalley
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.
Roomies was quite the surprise. I was in a (lazy) reading funk because of the snugly cold weather here but I wanted to read something if only to make progress with my Goodreads reading challenge - which, with three days left in the year and eight books to go to win, I have now given up on - so I decided to crack this open. Let it be known that I started reading this at one in the morning and that two hours later, my eyes were still glued. It's that good.

I loved this right from page one. Some may be weirded out by Elizabeth's openness to Lauren even in that first email, but I totally understand how easy it sometimes is to talk to a stranger rather than someone you've known your whole life. Lauren was more hesitant - and she may have been weirded out herself - but soon, the sense of anonymity let these two girls strike up a literally 'fast' friendship that made me go "Uh, TMI much?" one minute and then "Oh, whatever" the next, because if they're going to be sharing one room for the next year, they might as well get to the dirty dishes straight away, right?

It shocked me how I felt like I was reading about two versions of myself, but rather than Elizabeth, an only child who lives a fairly comfortable but sad life and resents her parents, I related even more with Lauren, the "no Facebook/Twitter/whasoever" type and has five younger siblings but is showered with love. Like her, I also have a ton of siblings - okay, 'a ton' is actually just four, but they're all married and two of them have two kids each so then it's a riot when we're in one room - so I know how it can be smothering to be in their company but homesick when not. All the crying she did when she was about to leave made me glad I don't have to move away while attending college.

Aside from the unusual friendship and going away to college shenanigans, another thing I loved about Roomies was the romance - or, rather, romances. Elizabeth and Lauren each found their own cute, sweet, and thoughtful guys who both made me swoon. Seriously. To discover one guy who belongs to this species is already hard enough, but two? Talk about luck. I just nodded for about a whole minute when one of the girls said (can't remember which, but I think it was Elizabeth) that her guy came at exactly the right point in her life when she needed him. I'm still green as the goblin with envy here, you guys.

Even though, except for some headdesk-worthy surprises, practically nothing mind-blowing happens in this book, I still couldn't stop reading it. It was like when I watched the movie Before Sunrise - you know, where the characters are just walking and chatting but somehow it never gets dull and, somewhere in the middle of it all, you start to care for them, like you just met two new friends and you want to know everything about them. The perfect read for a lazy day, Roomies reminds us of the essentials of any kind of friendship: honesty and consideration, and I look forward to reading it again.

MY FAVORITE PART was the last scene. All the pages before that felt like taking a deep breath for that one moment, and I just loved it.


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