Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Roomies by Sara Zarr, Tara Altebrando review from Brandi Breathes Books

Roomies
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.
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Publishes in US: December 24th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
Genre: YA contemp
Source: library
Series? no

Buy it: Amazon Barnes & Noble IndieBound Book Depository

Author stalk away:
Sara: ~website 

Tara: ~site ~twitter ~facebook


    I adored the premise of Roomies, high school students counting down the days until the end of school, and spending that final summer before college getting to begin to correspond to their roomate for the fall. Personally, I never really had a roomie before college, I was an only child and never went to camp, etc. 

   Elizabeth and Lauren are two different girls from different backgrounds but as they slowly share some of their life to a virtually anonymous girl on the internet, but also one that you will be living with in mere months. They begin to realize that they are more alike than possible. They both feel on the fringes as far as social circles go, they both have two jobs even if from different economic backgrounds, and they both have families that aren't traditional. 

    Although stories told in poems or in letters (especially if that is the whole thing) aren't a great fit for me all of the time, the emails in this one didn't bother me. I think that it is because it is mostly in narrative and the emails are supplemental. Another thing that I liked was how they faux composed snarky or emotional before they figured out what they really wanted to say. 

    Elizabeth and her family dynamics really intrigued me. As I said, I was an only child, so her having so many brothers and sisters opened my eyes to a different reality. She helped her parents a lot and she really loved her brothers and sisters, but at times she felt the weight on her shoulders and longed for a bit more quiet time to herself. I loved how close she was with her parents though, and how for the most part she really cherished their traditions--weekends together as a family. 

    I was worried about the romantic threads because I knew it was going to be a summer book with Lauren moving across the country to pursue her dreams of being a landscaper and Elizabeth moving thirty minutes away. But it ended up working nicely and although the final answer for the relationships wasn't set in stone, they were both defined and had a plan for the future. 

    There was always some drama, things that they told each other that they hadn't really confided in, and that made a strong bond between them. But they weren't in a state that nothing could shake that because some decisions and bad timing and mis-communication and replying when upset and taking anger out on someone else that shouldn't be the target. They weren't unshakable, but they made a good foundation for their future as roomies. 

    I loved the themes of friendship and family that was presented in this one. Although there are some pretty dysfunctional parenting going on, the family that each girl lived with was solid in their own ways. Lauren's mom was dating a bunch of guys, some very inappropriate leaving Lauren to deal with her feelings on that, and she also tries to reach out to her gay father who of course is now separated and has been for most of Lauren's life. Then Elizabeth has both of her parents, but also has five brothers and sisters and she is the oldest, so at times she felt like a third parent instead of having the bonding memories with them, or so she thinks. But we get to see sweet moments with her and Gertie as well as Peej. But as time comes closer and closer for her to move out, there were also some pretty tender moments with EB as she likes to be called and her parents, particularly her dad. 

   The humor that was in this book was good as well. That and some spot on discussions about stuff that teens really go through and think about. It was honest and some of it was the hard issues that most teens don't really talk about, or at least I know that I didn't. 

    The ending was sweet and fit the book perfectly. It sets up that they are finally meeting in person, and though they have this summer of emails to get to know each other, it is still a first, and a huge step in their roomie-ness and friendship. 


Bottom Line: Funny, dramatic story of the emails between two girls who will be college roommates.

My question to you, my lovely readers:
Did you grow up with a sibling roommate or who was your first non-family roomie? Where you close and are you still in touch?

33 comments:

  1. Whoop! My friend Jasprit loved this one too. I love when books have big families in them so that's a plus in my eyes. I'm glad you were able to adjust to the writing what wih the emails and all. CAn't wait to explore this friendship novel :)

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  2. I love the premise of this book! I got to correspond with my room mates before I went to college, and it was such a fun experience. I think this read will be a nice trip down memory lane for me. Lovely review!

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  3. I love books told in epistolary format, so add that to the premise, and I would likely enjoy Roomies too. Thanks for the review, Brandi!

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  4. I never had a roommate either, so this story seems so interesting to me. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and it sounds really good. Great review, Brandi :)

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  5. I enjoyed this one as well. My only roommate was my best friend so I've never lived with a stranger, it would be weird! I did have a lot of siblings. I was the oldest of 5.

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  6. I have seen something by her at the library, I must check

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  7. The premise sounds great, and I am glad the emails worked in this.

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  8. I always enjoy these little email books. I have a copy of this book and I think I need to move it up on my list. I am something sweet fun and kind of summery right now.

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  9. I really enjoyed this book as well. I agree that the emails were interwoven pretty well into the storyline, and the summer romances turned out nicely :)

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  10. I'm happy this was comedic and not angsty. Dysfunction is easier to swallow when there's humor involved.

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  11. I really loved the themes for this book too! It was a nice story, very different from what I expected. Nice review!


    I grew up with a sibling roommate, but eventually got my own room when I was a kid. I think my brother and I are much closer now that we're older and living further apart - we've always gotten along, but we argued a lot as kids.

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  12. The two completely and opposing personalities of the characters definitely sound like a good mix, for a good read! This one does seem like a funny yet lovely book.


    Wonderful review!

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  13. It was good and just what i needed

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  14. Nice, the siblings seem to get along better with a little age difference when they are older

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  15. Well, there was def some angst, but there was some funnies too

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  16. It didn't pull me out which was how I feel a lot with prose

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  17. It is a fun and fast read, but there's some depth too

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  18. Its a good read and glad I gave it a chance

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  19. I've enjoyed her others too but think this is lightest

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  20. I never lived with a stranger either. I too moved in with best friend

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  21. No roomie? Lol, you're missing out on drama in life, lol

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  22. Oh, that is so fun. I never got emails or anything before

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  23. Yes, the big families so got my heart

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  24. I grew up with a sister who was two years younger and we shared a room. We fought like cats and dogs until we hit about fourteen and then became very close. She's still my best friend. My first roommate after that was my husband. I never moved out of my family home until I got married.

    This sounds like a fun read with a lot of layers. Great review, Brandi! :)

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  25. Thankfully I've never had to share a room with a sibling. It is a bit different to share a room with people you aren't related to, but with college (for most), that's life. Wonderful review. Thank you for your thoughts.

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  26. I love friendship and family as themes. I actually forgot about this book so really thank you for this review which brought it back to my attention. +1 on my TBR pile YAY!! (yeah...) Lovely detailed review, Brandi. :)

    Lola @ Hit or Miss Books

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  27. This sounds like a lot of fun. I went to boarding school for my junior and senior years in high school, so I got the roommate experience earlier than most (non-sibling roommate anyway), which might be why I like roommate stories so much, LOL. Anyway, I've wanted to try Zarr for awhile, so this will definitely go on my wishlist ;)

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  28. Roomies sounds awesome, Brandi! And your review really made me want to *run* to amz and one-click it right now :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one!

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  29. Completely agree -- I loved the inclusion of the emails but I don't like books that are all emails.
    I'm a big fan of both of these authors so it was fun for me to try to figure out who wrote what!
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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  30. Bookworm BrandeeJuly 23, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    I like the sound of this one, Brandi. I think the inclusion of the emails makes it relevant. And I like that friendship and family are such strong elements. I'd been wanting to read this one - I'll have to pick it up. :)

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  31. This is one of those books that I swore I woudl read b/c I love Sara Zarr, but Just never got around to it. It's definitely still on my list, though!

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  32. This sounds like a sweet, fun read. I like the relationship between the characters and how close they are. Nice review Brandi!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

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