Monday, February 17, 2014

Author: Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
Release date: December 24th 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: N/A
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary  
Add to your library: 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. (via Goodreads)

I received an e-copy of this from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This however did not influence my opinion of the book or of the authors in any way.

I absolutely loved Sara Zarr's Sweethearts. Even though I haven't read any of Tara Altebrando's, I was excited to read this. I was curious as to how smooth their efforts would be. Also, the idea of contacting your roommate before the semester is dreamy and just exciting. I don't live in a dorm so there's my excitement...

What if Elizabeth didn't send out that one e-mail to Lauren? Would they have a different relationship? It was quite funny as to how that one summer changed both their lives. With them changing e-mails telling stuff that they both can't share to their best friends. I guess it's really easier to share things with someone you can't see and you don't know huh? Given that they don't know anything about each other gives them both a new chance to be who they really are. They weren't defined by the things that happened back in high school or even before that. And sure, they won't judge you. So even if there were some things that the two of them were ashamed of, they felt at ease telling it to the other. But it's not always the case, alright? Especially in our silly world today.

What I loved the most about this one is how intrinsically interwoven the lives of Elizabeth and Lauren are. Like it was written by only one author. So yes, it was so smooth and easy-flowing. Even if Elizabeth and Lauren's POV were written by two different authors, I was able to feel a connection between them without losing their own characters. There was a distinct voice to each of them which made me enjoy this more. I enjoyed the variations in their lives and their characters. Both of their reactions to each other's e-mail were realistic to me. There was frustration, happiness, anger and even swoon-worthy details in their stories that each of them shared. It was both fun and sad to see how going to college affects different lives. Whatever family setup you have, it's difficult when you're going away for college no matter what.

Not only did I love Ebb and Lo. I also enjoyed the people around their lives. Can I just say that I'm smitten by Mark? When Elizabeth went to him to rant about something, he didn't just went all yes to her. He did his best to present the other side of the story. I know Keyon did the same but Mark sounds more mature to me somehow. Heehee. Oh, and I love Lauren's younger siblings. Made me wish I have my own younger siblings.

Of course, the only downfall of communicating via e-mail is that it's hard to settle arguments. Unlike with phone calls or face-to-face talks, you'd have an immediate answer from the other person. When that moment happened with the girls, I actually felt sad because they have already established a good connection. Someone did what she thought was right which I thought was also right. But the other went hysterical and all. Again, they reacted to the e-mails realistically. So I don't have a problem with that. But as all arguments have their endings, the girls were able to come to an understanding.

I actually hoped they'd meet. I was waiting for the moment they'd see each other and they'd go crazy. But the ending didn't give me that. Instead, it was just a flash of what's yet to come and the beginning of something.

Roomies is a funny, emotional and entertaining read. Friendship, love and family were tested just in time to go away for college.

About the Authors
Sara ZarrSara Zarr is the acclaimed author of five novels for young adults, most recently The Lucy Variations, which the New York Times called “an elegant novel.” She’s a National Book Award finalist and two-time Utah Book Award winner. Her books have been variously named to annual best books lists of the American Library Association, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, the Guardian, the International Reading Association, the New York Public Library and Los Angeles Public Library, and have been translated into many languages. In 2010, she served as a judge for the National Book Award. She has written essays and creative nonfiction for Image, Hunger Mountain online, and Response as well as for several anthologies, and has been a regular contributor to Image‘s daily Good Letters blog on faith, life, and culture. As of summer 2013, she’s a member of the faculty of Lesley University’s Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. Sara also hosts the This Creative Life podcast. Born in Cleveland and raised in San Francisco, she currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, and online at

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

In addition to my most recent novel, THE BEST NIGHT OF YOUR (PATHETIC) LIFE, I’m the author of three previous books for Young Adults, including DREAMLAND SOCIAL CLUB, which was a Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens of 2011, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS and WHAT HAPPENS HERE.
Next up is ROOMIES, a novel I cowrote with Sara Zarr (Little Brown, December) and then my middle-grade debut, THE BATTLE OF DARCY LANE (Running Press Kids, May 2014).
I live in Queens, New York, with my husband and two young daughters, Ellie and Violet.

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