Thursday, December 19, 2013

Roomies (Early Book Review)

Thursday, December 19, 2013 12:29 PM with 18 comments

17573559

Roomies

Author(s): Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 288
Release Date: December 24, 2013

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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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MY THOUGHTS:

After looking at this cutesy cover and briefly scanning the synopsis of Roomies, I expected something in the manner of Meg Cabot's "Boy" series (Boy Next Door, Every Boy Has One, etc) which are these super fluffy books that are told entirely through email and are some of my all-time favorite mindless reads. I picked this up at the end of my crazy student teaching semester because I needed something that wouldn't make my brain melt any more than it already was. I just wanted mindless, cutesy fluff. While Roomies isn't a hard-hitting issue book by any stretch of the imagination, it wasn't nearly as...fun as I wanted it to be. It isn't told entirely in emails like I was expecting--I adore epistolary books--instead, this book is told in normal, alternating narrative with emails thrown in at the end of each chapter.

Elizabeth, who goes by EB, lives with her single mother on the East Coast. At the end of the summer she will be flying across the country to attend school in San Fransisco. EB's life has started to get complicated. She has broken up with her boyfriend and can feel her two best friends pulling away--or maybe she is pulling away from them. They are both staying close to home for college while she is leaving. Her relationship with her mother is also strained. She just cannot condone her mother dating married men like she does, and there is an underlying strain from their upcoming separation, as well. She is surprised to find herself falling for a new boy, Mark, a guy she meets while doing the landscaping for his house, but their relationship hits a few bumps when she finds out who his father is, plus the fact that she is leaving at the end of the summer. Finally, EB is trying to decide whether or not she should try to reconnect with her father, the man who came out as a gay man when she was a child and abruptly moved to San Fransisco. 

Lauren lives a different type of life in several ways. For one, she is the oldest child in a huge family. For another, she is from the Bay Area and so is only going a few miles away to attend school. She is also starting a new relationship this summer, though, with a boy she works with at a sandwich shop named Keyon. 

There really is something about that summer before college. You are on the precipice of something new and exciting, but also scary. What I did love about this story is how well the authors captured that on-the-edge feeling and the ways in which friendships begin to disintegrate when one person is moving away. In addition, while I was expecting for this to be cuter, it was still very easy to read and I liked both of the characters. Again, my expectations were for two girls becoming friends over emails, and so I was surprised when the girls didn't always connect and that the tone was often melancholy. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I hadn't been in the mind-set for something silly fun. I also found this book pretty forgettable. I finished this a couple of weeks ago and had to look up the names to write this review. 

Overall, I did like this one (even if it doesn't really sound like it), but I didn't find it to be special in any way. If you like summer books and/or books about older teens about to start college, you will probably enjoy this one. 


18 comments:

  1. I'm looking for something a little fluffy right now, and looking at the cover this book seemed to fit the bill. Judging by your review I guess it isn't as fun as it looks. Do you have any suggestions for other epistolary/lighter books?

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    1. Sure! My favorites are the ones I mentioned in the review by Meg Cabot: The Boy Next Door, Boy Meets Girl, and Every Boy's Got One. These are adult books, but they are chick-lit so if you like YA or fluffy, you'll probably like them. If you are looking for YA fluff, you still can't go wrong with Meg Cabot: Jinx, Pants on Fire and Airhead are all really fun, although not epistolary. Anna and the French Kiss is really cute and the Heist Society series are cute caper books. Other adult fluffy books I'd recommend are Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella or Jemima J by Jane Green--they are normal narrative, but super cute. I hope this helps! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I've heard mixed things about this one now! Oh well, I still want to try it. ;) I like the cover a lot (that counts!) and the blurb is pretty awesome. I like books in letters/emails too. Like Perks. *happy sigh* But it being forgettable is NOT a good thing for me. I have a terrible memory.

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    1. I have a bad reading memory. They all just start to run together after awhile. I hope you like this if you do pick it up. Again, I think I would have liked it more if I had been in a different mindset. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I'm not feeling well right now so I'm in the mood for something mellow like this book. I'll pick it up right after I finish Angelfall!

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  4. I thought this book was completely told in e-mails too, which I thought was so interesting. Oh well. And yes, definitely thought it would be more light and fluffy, so that's good to know going in. I like the idea of reading about the summer before college so I'll probably still read this. Great review! ~Pam

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    1. I love books about right before college, too. I think you'll probably enjoy this one. It was more me than the book I think. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I really loved Roomies, although I get that if you're in the mood for fluffy and fun, this might not live up to expectations! Your comment that "What I did love about this story is how well the authors captured that on-the-edge feeling and the ways in which friendships begin to disintegrate when one person is moving away" -- so true! I felt that the authors did an amazing job of showing that in-between stage, separating from family and hometown and feeling a bit unmoored, and at the same time being excited and scared for the big next step. I've been recommending this one a lot!

    Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies

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    1. I think most people will really enjoy this one. My mindset was just off. I was so slammed at the end of the semester and don't know if I could have really connected with anything. I truly do think that the authors did an outstanding job of making the relationships extremely realistic. I'm glad you enjoyed this one! Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Thanks for that honest review! I LOVE Sara Zarr's writing and her characters, so when I first heard about it in summer, I really wanted to read it! Now, though...already having started college, this feels like just another summer book :/ Reading your review now, I think I might postpone reading this one and wait until the summer...

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    1. This would be a good one for summer. It definitely has that summer-y vibe to it. I hope you love it when you do pick it up. Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. I keep hearing that...that's is not nearly as fluffy and cutesie as it's represented to be. Still, it sounds fun, and I'll try to ignore the comparisons to Fangirl so that I don't set myself up for failure with overly high expectations. Great, honest review.

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    1. Fangirl is definitely superior. I think I would have enjoyed this way more if I wasn't looking forward to something so cutesy. I hope you enjoy it if you decide to give it a try!

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  8. The more reviews I read about this book, the less excited I am to actually read it. Which is just...disappointing. I'm sure it's not bad, but it doesn't sound as good as I was hoping it would be. I'm sure I'll still read it, but I won't be in any rush to do so. Thanks for the honest review, Natalie!

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    1. I hate that. I have a couple of books that come out this month that I was dying to read, but that are getting dismal reviews which makes me sad. I hope you do like this if you pick it up, but, yeah, I wasn't very impressed. Thanks for stopping by!

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Hello, there! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I read each and every one and will do my best to respond--usually on your blog instead of on mine. I will, however, always answer direct questions. Due to serious time restraints, this blog is now an award free zone, but I appreciate the thought!