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.
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.