Skip to main content


The summer between senior year of high school and freshman year of college is an exhilarating and terrifying time in life. Torn between nostalgia for the past and  excitement for the future, it is a summer where everything is changing and yet a person tries to hold on (to varying degrees depending on the person) to what they are leaving behind. Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando captures this precarious and brief time period beautifully.

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.

Roomies is a fascinating look at this one brief but major point in the lives of many young people. The dynamic between Elizabeth and Lauren is complicated. On the one hand, they will be living together, sharing the same small space for at least a year. On the other hand, they are largely anonymous at the time they are emailing each other and they sort of use that (and each other) as a way of unloading a lot of their secrets, fears, and musings on the world in general. It is an exchange that can only take place in the era where it so easy to hit that send button and so instantly regret it. There is an interesting commentary underlying it all on how we judge online interactions and build a person around words on a screen. It was a pivotal moment when Lauren suddenly thinks of Elizabeth as a person outside of the words they have been typing back and forth. At the same time this is a fairly typical YA story. Two fairly typical stories actually about two girls whose lives are changing and the ways in which they are coping with that (or not). Taken apart the stories have nothing about them to make them stand out from everything else. Put them together, tied by the emails that are part of both of their coping mechanisms, and you get a richer story that is about more than just one person and a life changing experience. It is about relationships, how we build them and tear them down, and how it is possible to simultaneously hold on and let go. 

Lauren is the character whose life I was able to relate to the most. She is a focused and driven. She has earned a full scholarship and works two jobs while also helping her parents out with her six younger siblings. She has great supportive parents and a wonderful home. She worked so hard through most of high school that she never had time to just relax and have fun. She comes across as judgmental even when she is trying to be diplomatic, but is also genuinely trying to figure out what she believes about things. (Like how important or not her virginity is.) Elizabeth comes from a single parent home. Her father is gay and left her mom, but in the process he abandoned her too. She hasn't seen him since she was seven. Her greatest wish is to get as far away from her small town and small life as she can. Her life comes with a lot of drama (soap opera drama as she calls it-Lauren's response to that was my favorite email in the book). I truly think I would not have liked either of their stories much separately.  Together though, they work really well. Despite being able to relate to Lauren more, I had more sympathy for Elizabeth and felt like her character was more rounded. Both girls have boys in their stories and while I don't think either romance was amazing, I did like both boys. I also liked that they were there, because I think that it is fairly typical to use a romantic connection as a way to hold you to what you are leaving behind at this time in life. I do like the realistic way the future of both relationships was looked at by all involved. 

I enjoyed the time I spent reading Roomies and the thoughts (and memories) that it inspired. It is certainly a book that anyone who is or has experienced this transition could relate to.


Popular posts from this blog

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by  The Broke and the Bookish  and now hosted at  That Artsy Reader Girl . This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List From Most Recent to Least: What books have recently caught your eye?

Favorite Kissing Scenes

When thinking of a favorite things post I could do for February I decided it would have to be kissing. I've already done couples and I was feeling in the mood to do something fluffy and Valentine's related. So kisses it is. I read more MG than YA, and the YA I read tends to not focus on romance so this was actually harder than I expected it to be though a few jumped into my head right away. (And one of my choices does actually come from a MG book. One is adult. Gasp!) The actual scene from the book is quoted followed by my thoughts. The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and a groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the hollow of the queen's shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day . - The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner Turner doesn't write the


Shadowshaper  by Daniel José Older is everywhere. Best of lists. Award buzz. Blogs everywhere. It's one of those books everyone is reading and talking about. I had it on my TBR but decided I definitely needed to read it before the year was out just so I could weigh in on one of the most talked about books of 2015 if asked. It is deserving of every good thing said about it. Every. One. Sierra was looking forward to a relaxing summer break. Her plans involved hanging out with her friends and painting. They did not involve being chased by zombie like creatures and threatened by a magical power connected to her family's heritage she has never heard of. When murals begin fading all over her Brooklyn neighborhood, Sierra is perplexed. When her grandfather, who had a stroke, begins to apologize and starts repeating strange phases and insisting Sierra get the help of a boy she barely knows to help her finish her mural, Sierra is concerned but mostly about her grandfather. Then at a

Jinx's Fire

I have been a big fan of Jinx and company from the very first book, which felt like such a perfect Brandy book. The conclusion of Sage Blackwood's trilogy, Jinx's Fire , finished the story beautifully and is definitely my favorite of the three. Spoilers for first two books abound. Read those first: Jinx Jinx's Magic The Urwald is in danger from more than one direction and has no hope of defending itself if there is not unity amongst the people. Jinx, Sophie, Elfwyn, Wendell, and a dedicated group of others are working to make this happen as quickly as they can. Time is running out. At the same time, they are still dealing with the threat of the Bonemaster from within, and the Urwald's magic is fading. Where is it going? Can it be restored? And where has the Bonemaster put Simon? Jinx is the only one who can find the answers to these questions, and harnass the Urwald's power to save them all, but only if he is willing. Jinx has some serious attitude in this

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak  by Robert Beatty is a thrilling tale of mystery and adventure set at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. Having lived in Asheville and visited the house several times, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to read this. (Also it's MG fantasy, always a bonus for me.) Serafina lives in secret in the basement of the Vanderbilt's spacious vacation home. She has lived there most of her life. Her father worked on the house as it was being built and is the mechanic who runs the massive generator and keeps the electricity going. Serafina is the chief rat catcher, slipping through the halls of her massive home secretly and quietly. She is light on her feet, sees well in the dark, and is quick enough to catch the vermin and keep them out. Serafina knows she if different and strange. Her father insists she stay hidden. But all that changes when one night Serafina witnesses a horrible crime. A little girl, a guest in the house, is fleein