Friday, 3 January 2014

Book Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

RoomiesTitle: Roomies
Author: Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Series:  ~
Pages:  288
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Date of Publication: 2nd January 2014
Source: For review from publisher*
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.


My Thoughts:
I was so excited when Roomies dropped unexpectedly through my letterbox. I'd seen it around the internet and the blogosphere, and having read The Lucy Variations in the summer this year and loving it, I was very excited to give this a read. I hadn't read any Tara Altebrando, or even heard of her (sorry!) so it was also great to discover a new author! I'll be looking out for more of her titles in the future, definitely.

Anyway, I enjoyed Roomies. Not loads, but it was definitely a light-hearted and interesting read. The concept was one that really interested me, because I'm in Year Twelve now and have recently started thinking about going to university, and everything that goes with that - including accommodation and whether or not I would like to have a single room or a roommate. I think the norm in England is to have a single but I haven't done that much research so I couldn't say for sure, however I kind of like the idea of having a roommate. It'd be fun. Anyway, I felt that it was quite relevant and I think all in all it was done really well, and it certainly felt quite authentic to me.

The book is told in dual narrative, one narrative by each of the authors. I'm usually a big fan of dual narrative, however the characters HAVE to be distinctive and individual, otherwise it completely defeats the point of having a dual narrative and makes the book super confusing. Unfortunately, both EB and Lauren were very similar in voice and I constantly had to flick back pages to see who I was reading because I just couldn't tell the difference.

I did really like the set up of the book though, with Lauren and EB communicating via email before they actually meet when they get to uni. I looked forward to the emails at the end of each chapter, and I also really liked how the authors explored how difficult it is to convey exactly what you mean via text. Having had an unpleasant experience in the past with messaging someone and have them completely misunderstand me, I could empathise with the characters, which was good because it made them seem more authentic. I also think that the authors explored the anxieties and concerns that teenagers have while growing up and moving away really well, and obviously I haven't actually left home yet but I can imagine having some of the same kinds of worries that EB and Lauren had and so it was nice to know that I'm not the only one!

Overall, while Roomies wasn't quite everything I was hoping for, it is a very enjoyable read nonetheless and if you're wanting to read it, then most definitely do. It's light-hearted yet still manages to explore many themes of growing up and leaving home in a mature and interesting way. I'm looking forward to reading more of these authors!

3 comments:

  1. I'm glad to see you liked this, even though you didn't love. I read The Lucy Variations over Christmas and enjoyed it so I'll be seeking this one out sometime soon. I read an interview with both authors recently about how they stayed friends whilst writing this which was very interesting. I'm looking forward to reading it myself!

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  2. I've not read anything from either author (though I WILL read The Lucy Variations at some point, promise, but I like the sound of this because of uni soon and all that! Glad that you enjoyed it even ifit wasn't everything you wanted it to be :)

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  3. I really enjoyed this and loved looking at the issues it explores but I too found similar problems with getting the two main characters voices jumbled up from time to time. Fab review :)

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