Monday, December 23, 2013

Roomies ~ Tara Altebrando & Sara Zarr (ear) review [@TaraAltebrando @SaraZarr @LBKids]

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
December, 24, 2013
288 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

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.

This is one of the times where I was really happy to have been wrong about what I expected a book was going to be about. For whatever reason, I though Roomies was an epistolary style novel. While I do love books written that way, I'm pretty thrilled Roomies wasn't.

While Elizabeth and Lauren's email exchanges are a significant part of the novel, they're not all of it. It's in all that we learn of their lives outside of their their interactions that the story really works, that it really becomes a full story. We see each girl prepare for the start of college, their different family situations, the new boys they meet -- and their struggles to figure out how that fits in with their impending departure.

Not only does this give a much better sense of each girl than if we were only to know them through what they chose to share in the emails, it puts the emails in a bit of a different light. We're able to see what they're holding back - from each other, from themselves, from those around them.

Elizabeth and Lauren aren't falling apart at the idea of leaving home, of starting college. They're excited and, seemingly, ready to go, but also anxious.The way Roomies focuses both on their current lives, allowing things to still happen (like new boyfriend potential, friend drama) while the lead-up to leaving home is ever-present is pretty perfect. It's not all about the girl's imminent departure, all while it is.

The things Lauren and Elizabeth  experience are pretty universal (change, growth, loss, love, etc) things we've all experienced at some point, the college roommate situation is just how Altebrando and Zarr told them this time. It's a great read for all ages. You don't need to be getting your own college roomie(s) any time soon (or already have one) to enjoy Roomies and Lauren and Elizabeth's tale.

Rating: 8/10

thank you to LBYR and NetGalley for my egalley for review

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