An eARC Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

roomiesTitle: Roomies

Author: Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

Source: Received eARC from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Edition: E-book, 288 Pages

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Published Date:  December 24th 2013

My Rating4parachutes


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.


Date Read:  December 25-26, 2013

” Life is one of those experiments meant to be conducted in a stimulating, messy environment.” ~ Loc 3338

My Review:

Elizabeth and Lauren are about to be freshmen roommates in San Francisco. Berkeley housing sends the girls each other’s information so they can do a little getting to know one another before school starts.

The premise was innocent enough and while I knew what I was getting into when I started Roomies thanks to the blurb, I wasn’t prepared for just how much I would enjoy this story. In a way, Roomies felt like a part of my own pre-freshman year story. Of course my own story is considerably more boring and missing any cute boy who shows up at just the right time. What Roomies is about in the simplest terms seems like a part of my own personal experience and ff that was the authors’ intent than they definitely delivered.

Elizabeth or EB as she likes to be called is living in New Jersey and picks Berkeley because of its landscape architecture program and partly because that’s where her dad moved to after he came out when she was five. She doesn’t say so in the novel but I got the feeling it played a role in her decision-making.

EB’s story was probably my favorite of the two girls, though personality-wise I liked Lauren more. EB starts out normal enough, but then she hits personal crisis after personal crisis and then she just kind of loses it. The part with her dad, while I understood where she was coming from, she was just being so irrational and immature about the entire thing. I was really surprised by her personal growth by the end of the story.

Lauren lives in the Bay area already and is really only moving an hour away from her home, but unlike EB who is more than ready to leave for most of the book, Lauren has a hard time coming to terms with her inevitable departure. Lauren is the eldest of six, and the age gap between her and the next oldest is 12 years, so she is more of a third parent to her younger siblings. She feels responsible for her siblings and feels like she is abandoning her parents who obviously need the help she has always provided.

Both Lauren and EB work part-time jobs during the summer before they leave, they both have issues with their close friends at home, they both meet these crazy wonderful better halves and they both correspond with one another through a series of emails that eventually build to a semblance of a real friendship.

I ridiculously enjoyed the emails back and forth, the pacing of the book helped the reader keep up with the emails that quickly evolved from who is bring what appliance to telling each other things they weren’t telling their other friends. There weren’t any lulls in the plot like you might expect. Instead, everything moved forward fluidly and effortlessly and really I just didn’t want to put the book down. By the end, I was sad to say good-bye to all these wonderful characters who had both grown so much and were both so ready for the next chapter in their lives.

If you’re on the fence, I recommend Roomies 100%. It was the perfect Young Adult Contemporary in my opinion.


He leads me out the other side of the house, and there is something about his pulling me forward that feels so incredible. Because I wish I were being guided a bit more through life, that I didn’t always feel as if I were drifting, like an untied balloon that someone didn’t even realize was slipping away. ~ Loc 855

“If I didn’t want you to come I’d make up some shit to my dad about how you don’t date the brothers.” … “You do, though, right?” he asks, with a quick glance. “Oh, yeah. I totally do. I date the brothers. Like nobody’s business. Yes.” We both burst out laughing.  ~ Loc 1420

Then Francis burped and Mom put him over her shoulder, patting his back rhythmically while saying “Sexy sexy sexy sex” with each pat. “Mom, seriously? In front of Francis?” “How do you think we got Francis?” ~ Loc 3032

3 thoughts on “An eARC Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

  1. This sounds like a fun read! I’ve been hearing about this book for quite a while (Everyone seems to be excited about it) and I just, because of the not-so-inviting cover, am not interested. But I see now why everyone can’t wait for this one. Glad to hear too that the characters developed really well throughout the book!
    Adding it my my TBR like right now 🙂 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

    Neysa @ [B.O.O.K.L.I.F.E]

    1. I can definitely see where you’re coming from. There have been a number of amazing covers in 2013 and Roomies certainly doesn’t stand out. It is a great read though, glad to hear you added it 🙂

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