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.
Publishes in US: December 24th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA contemp
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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.
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?