Saturday 26 October 2013

ARC Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

Publication date: December 24th, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Links: Goodreads|Amazon|The Book Depository
Stars: 3.5/5
Source: NetGalley
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.


Roomies is a fun and breezy read that captures the butterflies and exhilaration of the summer between the end of high school and beginning of college, along with the sparks of a summer romance that might just lead to something more. New Jersey-bred Elizabeth and San Franciscan Lauren receive intimations that they have been assigned to be each other's roommates for the coming year. Elizabeth or EB as her friends call her rushes off to email Lauren, while not-so-eager Lauren tries to hide her disappointment on not being assigned a single.

But like it or not, Lauren and Elizabeth soon find it easy to confide in each other about the complications and sensitivities that are starting to take over their lives: from absentee fathers, big chaotic families, new boys in their lives, strained friendships and a goodbye of sorts looming close.

These girls couldn't be more different from each other. There are points where their personalities practically grate against each other but other points when they are surprisingly on the same track. The ice does not break right away: it cracks, submerges a bit before it is on the brink of melting. Whatever their differences, they share the nervous excitement of starting over and their emails to each other shake their ideologies a bit; influencing them for the better. When the prospect of the much awaited start of uni nears, they find unexpected strength in just-barely knowing each other; though conflict isn't far behind.

Roomies is told in Lauren and Elizabeth's alternating points of view, interspersed with their variations of clipped, happy, sad, elaborate and angry emails to each other. It starts off drama-filled but slows down in pace towards the end; when it finally feels less like something that would get a prime time slot on CW and more relatable and down to earth.

Reading Roomies was "easy"; I finished it in less than a day. I found myself smiling at times, nodding along at some of those college-anticipation moments and quite taken in with some of the characters; Lauren's new boyfriend's dad in particular. But beyond that, I wasn't entirely attached. It was a well written "okay" read that was fun to kick back with. It's great if you're looking for something quick and fun, especially if you're a prospective undergrad but not so much if you're looking for something that leaves a lasting impression. Roomies still manages to be wholesome, if not memorable!

Rating: ★★★1/2

Note: Roomies has a preview edition, consisting of the first 58 pages for free on Amazon :)


  1. Nice review. This does sound like a quick, fun read. I've already through college (well, I'm in graduate school now) and I lived at home so I can't relate to that...but it's always interesting to read books that take place around college.

    1. I know, right? I'm living away from home now- just three hours away, like Lauren, so it was an interesting read :)

  2. Aww, a little disappointed that you didn't love this more! I was really looking forward to it (especially the summer before starting first year haha) and so I'm glad that aspect of it at least is relatable. To be honest though, I guess I was expecting something a bit deeper from the synopsis? Not that there's anything wrong with a fun, easy read ofc but I'm just kind of surprised.

    I still definitely want to check this one out, for no reason other than the fact that I'm suddenly super interested in books re: college/uni ;) I'm in a single (sorry Lauren) so it'll be nice to 'see' what living with a roomie is like!

    Thanks for the great review, Pooja! <3

    1. Hey Sonia!! I'll admit I was expecting something a little bit deeper too. I guess it wasn't SUPERFICIAL. More like fleeting in impact. Nevertheless it was WHOLESOME- the characters were amazing and well fleshed out :) Soo I'm sure you'll enjoy it, esp as you're in the college phase ;) More than anything, the ending felt a little washed out- but it is still worth reading :D

  3. I was tempted to read this but I just didn't have time. I think it sounds sweet and fun. If you liked this, I would definitely recommend Fangirl, it is along the same lines.

  4. Nice to see you enjoyed this breezy read, Pooja. Sometimes I'm in the mood for something that isn't too heavy, so I'll keep this in mind. Wonderful review!

    So thrilled to hear you loved Finding Cinderella! Colleen Hoover is the best! :)


HI. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment. :)