Saturday, November 16, 2013

Roomies

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Publication Date: December 24, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pages: 288
Keywords: college, roommates, summer
Format Read: ARC via NetGalley



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.

Normally, I'm not a fan of books done in letter or e-mail format, but this one sounded really intriguing, so I gave it a shot — definitely glad I did so.

First, the book was not entirely in letter format like I assumed it would be. Rather, the story follows each girl's life that summer before they move to college, with an occasional update to the other about what's going on.

This was one of those books that was really funny — and I mean really funny. Every once in a while, there were just superb one-liners like:

"Even so, Catholic must be in my blood because I feel sort of judge-y about the whole thing and a tiny bit of vicarious from merely knowing."

(And this is coming from a born-and-raised Catholic.)
But even with the comedic bits, it still tackled a really important point in a lot of people's lives. Leaving for college is a big deal, whether you are going really far away or not at all, and the reader gets both perspectives. One lives across the country. The other will be 20 minutes from home. 

Even more, the authors also brought up issues like race — one character starts to like a guy who is black, and she doesn't know how her family will feel, react, or act around the guy she wants to get involved with. I mean, I obviously don't want to spoil it, but I was so impressed at how honest and poignant the characters handled this situation, as well as just the whole going to college and dealing with leaving home issues. 

I really only didn't like one thing — one of the main characters. Elizabeth, or Ebb, as Lauren liked to call her, really really bothered me. She was whiny and annoying, and she got angry if Lauren took more than six hours to respond to her emails. Really? Lauren let her know her life was in chaos and she was working all the time. Calm down, girl. 

But all in all, I really enjoyed it. It seemed like just a fun read when I started, but some of the things it did and covered surprised me, and it covered more than a lot of books manage to, and it was done with such truth.

Read When: You are getting ready to make a big change and need some advice, someone to talk to, an inanimate object to confide in.

Other favorite quotes:

"Everything you haven't had time to worry about in the chaos of the day comes at you, whoosh. If you don't move on to the next task, ASAP, it can undo you."

"Is that the destiny of all friendships, no matter how good they are? To die out or fade away? To end?"

"Race. It's so tricky, even though we're all supposedly enlightened and color-blind. I don't want it to be a Thing. But it kind of is a Thing, isn't it?"

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