Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date: 2nd January 2014
My rating: 4.5 stars
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.
This year has certainly been the case where books which I’ve had high hopes for have ended up being somewhat disappointing and books which I’ve picked up on a whim have ended up surprising me the most. This was exactly the case with Roomies, I decided to pick it up one day, thinking I’d read a couple of chapters, but ended up staying late totally absorbed by our two main characters Lauren and Elizabeth.
Elizabeth and Lauren ended up being assigned as roommates at college, Lauren had requested a single room, so is none too pleased about this arrangement, but Elizabeth is ecstatic, she’s an only child and so is extremely looking forward to sharing with Lauren. Whereas Lauren has five younger siblings and so needs her own room to be on her own. But things end up going differently than both girls had imagined, they’re given each other’s email addresses to get in touch beforehand and what starts off as rambly over excited email slowly develops into a friendship neither girl could have hoped for.
I’ve read books before which have been set up in an entire email format (Meg Cabot’s Boy series) and I had a lot of fun with it, as it didn’t read like a email at all, but flowed as a proper story. The same could be said about the emails Lauren and Elizabeth sent each other. Each alternative chapter was set as a pov from Elizabeth and Lauren, we would get to know about their lives and what was going on with them with their preparation with their big move and then an email was sent to each other at the end. To be honest I loved this entire story, but the emails were definitely a highlight to each chapter. Both girls had people around them that they could turn to with everything going on around them, but I felt that as the girls began to get to know each other, the more they were able to share their deep fears and secrets that they weren’t comfortable sharing with others. Although there were a few bumps along the way, the friendship that developed between these girls was one of the best ones that I’ve seen around.
At first when I was reading the alternative povs, I did favour reading Elizabeth’s story, things were crazy with her boyfriend constantly pressurising her, her being distant from her friend and her mum messing around with a married guy. I felt Elizabeth deserved much more than this and it was horrible watching her stumble along through this alone especially when her mum could be self-centred at times. Also Elizabeth for me was open about what she wanted, she wouldn’t hold back on her feelings and so it was easier to connect with her character more quickly than Lauren’s. Lauren for me was really distant at the beginning, she never displayed enthusiasm as Elizabeth did and it took me a while to get to know her character properly. But halfway through this book I found myself addicted to both girls stories, Zarr and Altebrando have created two great characters in Elizabeth and Lauren, that I did find myself getting a bit choked up too by the end when I had to say goodbye to them.
Both girls displayed a huge amount of growth over the course of this book, a lot of this was because the support and relationship they had established through their emails, but also because of some great secondary characters some which I had been rooting for from the beginning (Mark & Keyon) and some which came through in the end. Mark and Keyon were the sweetest ever love interests, they were guys who were so in touch with their feelings and actually went about doing things to express them in a meaningful way. Don’t get me wrong I love my tattooed bad boys, but these two guys went out of their way for both Lauren and Elizabeth on many occasions, it’s sad that they were only able to get to know the girls just a little time before they went off to college, but with the way things were I had a good feeling that both relationships would be able to withstand the long distance between them.
Roomies was a book which was left with an ending for you to make your own interpretation of. Whilst this would annoy certain readers, I think this ending was the best way to go for, as it leaves the reader with a lot of hope for what could happen next. Also with the way things were left, this book can leave readers with the hope that these two great authors will return to this story one day in the future and continue with where they left off. There are still a lot of things that I’d love to find out about, so would extremely look forward to a follow up book.
Roomies was a book which left me with warm fuzzies, it was a book which both authors dealt with so many real life issues in a realistic way, but was also a book which on many occasions left me with a huge smile on my face. This was my first book by Sara Zarr and Altebrando, but after the great impression this book left with me it certainly won’t be my last.